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Residents Blast Katonah Group Home Proposal

The Bedford Town Board held a special meeting on the proposed Katonah group home on Sept. 11, 2014 at a community center in Bedford Hills. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie
Marianne O'Toole, one of the Katonah group home opponents, speaks at the Bedford Town Board's meeting on Sept. 11, 2014. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie

BEDFORD HILLS, N.Y. -- A proposed group home that would be in a Katonah neighborhood was met with opposition from the vast majority of residents at recent town meetings.

Residents against the proposal, which is from Cardinal McCloskey Community Services and would involve a reuse of 4 Old Mill Lane for four developmentally disabled adults, frequently voiced traffic safety concerns specific to site. Several mentioned existing traffic problems in the site’s vicinity, including a steep hill that the property is next to, the roadway layout about blockage of the corridor impeding movement for the area.

The site’s red house is located near the intersections of both Whitlockville Road and Meadow Lane, and is part of a triangular piece of land.

Several residents who emphasized the problematic nature of the site denied that they were bigoted or that the nature of the use was their motive.

Kathy Perry, who lives in the neighborhood, expressed support for a group home in the area, but not at the specific site. She also went into detail about the unsafe nature of the hill.

“It's just very, very dangerous,” she said.

Neighbor George Graniero also cited danger with the hill.

“You're going to have an accident and somebody's going to get seriously hurt,” he said.

Blockage of the roadway during an emergency, along with emergency call volume were also brought up as concerns from the public.

Other residents had concerns about occupants’ information or whether the number could be increased.

Opposition to the project came up during a Sept. 9 Planning Board meeting and at a Sept. 11 Town Board meeting. Each of the heated meetings, which were marked by groaning and shouting, lasted for around four hours. The group’s officials also spoke at the meetings.

Diane Pryce, an official with the organization, explained that none of the would-be occupants have criminal histories.

Two to three staff would be present at the home, according to Pryce, with the number going down to two during the night. There would be shifts for the employees.

At a given time, according to Pryce, there would be five to six cars on site, although after a resident pressed her for how shift changes are handled, it was disclosed that the number could rise to eight during transitions. Pryce cited 15 minutes as the time for a shift change.

The on-site vehicles, it was noted, would include two from the organization along with those from staff. The occupants are not anticipated to be driving, according to Pryce.

“We are going to be very respectful of our neighbors,” said William Ursillo, the organization’s chief operating officer.

Town Attorney Joel Sachs gave a legal overview. Last month, a letter announcing the plan was submitted. The town then had 40 days to decide whether to object to the plan, which resulted in a Sept. 15 deadline. Both sides agreed to two-week extension, however. The town could object to the project, Sachs explained, with oversaturation of such facilities or suitable alternative locations being reasons. The commissioner from the state’s Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) would then decide whether to sustain or overrule the objection, he added. If the objection is overruled, according to Sachs, the town could file a lawsuit in response.

The Town Board is set to revisit the matter on Sept. 26 at 8:15 p.m.

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