THW Group, LLC v. Zoning Bd. of Adjustment, 86 A.3d 330 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2014).

Methadone clinic constituted a medical office for the treatment of patients under the zoning ordinance definition.
Case Details:

Applicant owned a two-story structure in the City’s C-2 Commercial District in which there was an existing insurance office on the first floor and eleven apartments on the second floor.  Applicant applied for a zoning permit for a “medical office” for “the treatment of patients” to be located in another first-floor space within the building.  Specifically, the use was that of a methadone clinic.  A zoning permit was issued and Objectors, who were neighbors of the building, appealed the decision.  There was much opposition, and following a hearing at which Objectors’ medical expert testified to the significant differences between a methadone clinic and medical office, the Zoning Board of Adjustment determined that the permit should not have been issued.  On appeal, the trial court reversed the decision because “treatment of patients” is expressly permitted in the C-2 District and there is no difference between treatment of patients at a clinic as compared to an office.

On appeal, the Commonwealth Court referred to Merriam-Webster to define the term “clinic” because it was not defined by the Code.  A “clinic” is “a facility (as of a hospital) for diagnosis and treatment of outpatients.”  Based on that definition, the Commonwealth Court determined Applicant’s proposed use clearly is for the “treatment of patients” and a medical office because, as the Zoning Board of Adjustment found, the proposed services included administering daily medication, drug counseling, evaluation of new patients, and addiction related medical testing, including urine and blood testing.  Because both uses are expressly permitted in the C-2 District, the trial court’s decision was affirmed.

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