A proposed sober living home near George G. White Middle School has some Hillsdale residents concerned about children's safety.
"Something like this doesn't belong next to a school," Mayor Max Arnowitz said.
The home's owner, Donna Lally, said she understood the concerns but hoped that her neighbors would come around. She described the home as "sober living for executive men." The residents would all be 28 or older and voluntarily pay to stay there. There would be no court-ordered residents and the facility does not use government funding, according to Lally.
"I think they need to come to an understanding of what I do here, and not be afraid," Lally said.
Lally said she wanted to open the facility because of the impact addiction has had on her life. She lost a son to drug addiction in 2010. The Magnolia Avenue home is her only venture.
The house is a two-family home. Lally lives in the one-bedroom downstairs portion, and she plans to have as many as four men living in the three-bedroom upstairs.
The location, near Hillsdale's downtown, is ideal because some of the residents may need to take the train or walk to do their shopping and other errands.
Borough officials were suprised when a resident showed them a brochure for the facility, as they had not known about it previously. Arnowitz said they are not opposed entirely to a sober group home in Hillsdale, but because of the site's proximity to White School — it's just a few houses away — officials decided the facility should appear before the Hillsdale Planning Board.
"No one knew about it," Arnowitz said. "The police didn't even know about it."
Lally noted that many area churches host Alcoholics Anonymous and/or Narcotics Anonymous programs. The house would only take residents who had already completed rehab programs and were living sober, she said. The home would be a way for the men to stay away from their "triggers" while remaining close to family and having a close support group to adjust into healthy lives.
"They have people to watch football with on a Sunday afternoon, clean and sober," Lally said.