Sober Home Near School Opposed by Hundreds of Hillsdale Residents
A group of Hillsdale residents are concerned about a plan for a sober living home for recovering addicts located near George G. White Middle School.
A plan for a proposed sober living home on Magnolia Avenue is facing opposition from a group of Hillsdale residents.
The residents have gathered more than 400 signatures for a petition and submitted a letter to the Hillsdale Planning Board Tuesday requesting the hearing be adjourned to a meeting early next year so they can have more time to research the issue and decide whether or not they want to hire an attorney to formally object to the application.
Hearings for the application have been rescheduled several times because of Hurricane Sandy and a request from the applicant. It is currently scheduled to be heard at the December 18 planning board meeting.
Board members said at a meeting Wednesday that they would wait until the December 18 meeting to decide whether or not to hold off on beginning the application. The objectors will have to give their reasons for wanting a delay at that meeting.
The plan calls for a two-family home on Magnolia Avenue to be used as a sober living home for former addicts, according to Donna Lally, the home's owner. Lally previously told Patch she did not believe the residents would be a danger to the community. They would be "executive men" who had already completed rehab programs and were voluntarily paying to stay there in order to avoid "triggers" for their former addictions, she said. Lally's plan calls for as many as four recovering residents to live in the upper portion of the two-family home.
"I think they need to come to an understanding of what I do here, and not be afraid," Lally previously said.
Residents opposed to the plan said they were concerned because of the home's proximity to George G. White Middle School — it's just a few houses away — and because Lally had apparently opened the facility without any notification to the borough.
"No one's against helping people," Frank Pizzella, a former councilman, said. "The issue comes when someone wants to circumvent the process. It makes it look like they're hiding something."
Borough officials previously said they had been surprised to learn about the facility when a resident anonymously sent them a pamphlet for it. Two recovering residents were already found to be living there last April, Pizzella told Patch. Lally said that, as of October, no one else was living in the home.
There are several other group homes in Hillsdale, including one for recovering drug addicts.