July 15, 2010

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ZBA reverses decision on dialysis center

Fresenius Medical Care and Delaware Valley Nephrology Associates, operators of the proposed dialysis center at 10 E. Moreland Ave., have won their appeal for unlimited hours of operation.

At its July 8 meeting, the Zoning Board of Adjustment reversed its decision to limit the center’s hours.

At an earlier meeting on June 9, the ZBA acted to limit the center’s hours on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, forcing the center to close by 6 p.m. The decision was backed by near neighbors and board members concerned about unwanted noise and traffic. But after Fresenius’ lawyer, Carl Primavera, sent the ZBA a letter asking for reconsideration, the board changed its decision.

Accompanying Primavera’s letter were letters of support from Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller; Alan Greenberger, deputy mayor for Economic Development, and Samuel V. Rhoads, vice president of the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation.

“I’m not very happy with [the decision],” said Marc Donahue, a nearby resident. Donahue and neighbor Joe Rapone represented residents opposed to the center’s hours at the original meeting with the ZBA.

Primavera told the Local last week, after filing the request to reconsider, that he believed the ZBA didn’t appreciate the importance of the operating hours restriction for his clients. Simply put, Fresenius would not fund the renovation or open the center in a location where its hands were tied. Because of that, Primavera believed the ZBA would see testimony from that day in a new light, justifying reconsideration.

Donahue, Rapone and Peter Burke, all nearby neighbors of the dialysis center, also wrote letters to the ZBA asking that the decision not be made in a closed-door executive session. The decision, however, was eventually made in this manner.

“I think that that is probably not the best way to do it – may not be the most ethical way to do it, and certainly is not the most transparent way to do it,” Donahue said.

A more appropriate way for the reversal to have happened, Burke said, would have been if Fresenius had appealed the decision in court. Burke also said he no longer trusts the company that will soon be his neighbor.

“Now, we as neighbors, our only option is to appeal this in court, which puts the financial burden on a group of concerned neighbors who are fearful of expanded hours of operation,” Donahue said.

The original ruling from the ZBA said the center was to operate from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays with limited operating hours of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

This decision took into consideration the testimonies of both parties – Fresenius as well as neighbors – given at a public hearing. Neighbors’ concerns still include increased traffic, noise and safety of the residential neighborhood surrounding the dialysis center.



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