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Population Growth Among Issues Raised Over Katonah Group Home Plan

Bedford officials have held two meetings so far regarding the proposed Katonah group home.
Bedford officials have held two meetings so far regarding the proposed Katonah group home. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie

BEDFORD, N.Y. -- The possibility of a future expansion of the population of the proposed Katonah group home is a matter of interest for residents and Bedford’s Planning Board.

An advisory memo from the Planning Board to the Town Board, which followed the former’s roughly four-hour meeting on Sept. 9, called for an approval that is tied to a series of conditions. One of them includes finding out about a town role in a population expansion scenario. Other conditions include limiting parked vehicles on the site to seven, with two of them being in a garage.

Cardinal McCloskey Community Services is proposing the group home for a site at 4 Old Mill Lane. It would be in a red house, which is by a steep hill and a triangular tip of property at the intersection with Whitlockville Road. Several residents who live near the site blasted the proposal at the Planning Board meeting and at a Town Board meeting that was held on Sept. 11, with the location’s existing traffic problems cited.

Aside from explicit concerns about the nature of the site, there was concern from some members of the public regarding the potential to expand the group home’s capacity.

An expansion of the allowed population must be approved by the state’s Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), it was noted.

Ira Rothenstein, a manager for the agency’s Tarrytown office, was asked about expansion during the Planning Board meeting. Rothenstein, who called expansion “very unlikely,” explained that it is rare. He also discussed the federal government’s desire for limiting group home populations to four. Skepticism, however, continued at the Town Board’s meeting two nights later.

Town Attorney Joel Sachs addressed the notion of a town role in the matter, recalling a question asked to legal counsel for OPWDD. When the question of whether an application to raise population would automatically lead to another town review, the answer was no, he explained.

Traffic was also an issue. At the Town Board meeting, an attorney for Cardinal McCloskey Community Services announced that a traffic study would be submitted; residents reacted to the update with skepticism. Having a town-backed traffic study, with a cost capped at $3,500, was then brought up by the board.

The Town Board is scheduled to revisit the matter on Sept. 26.

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