Sober Home Near School Worries Hillsdale Residents

The woman who wants to open the house to recovering alcohol and drug addicts said she hoped to help men restore order to their lives after going through rehab.

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.

Steve McKenna October 26, 2012 at 06:43 PM
If this is a "proposed" venture, then explain this advert... http://sober.com/directory/sober+houses/new+jersey/page1.html scroll down to 150 Magnolia House. That doesn't seem "proposed". It even gives rates! In case the ad gets pulled from the site, here's the text: 150 Magnolia House 150 Magnolia Avenue Hillsdale, New Jersey 07642 Contact: 201-394-8631 WELCOME to "150 Magnolia House" the upscale men's executive sober living home in beautiful Bergen County, NJ. We are conveniently located close to Manhattan, Paramus, Ridgewood, Hackensack, Hoboken, Newark, Summit and Morristown. 150 Magnolia House is a one-of-a-kind recovery experience in that we not only provide an upscale executive oriented clean & sober home in a semi-structured environment in a NYC bedroom community, but we are essentially a broad spectrum solution to recovery. Within our Florida model, we make available to our clients, all the tools necessary to successfully re-enter mainstream society. (see part 2)
Steve McKenna October 26, 2012 at 06:44 PM
part 2 We fully understand the meaning & importance of personal anonymity & make sure that your privacy is our main focus & vital to creating a successful recovery based life. We provide a safe, clean, supportive environment for individuals in early sobriety who are not quite ready to live on their own. Our residential rules & guidelines provide a necessary sense of structure & community, along with a generous amount of personal freedom. Our suburban residential setting allows you to focus your energies where they will do the most good, alleviating all the outside distractions so you can regain the confidence needed to build a successful recovery program. Through building a home-like atmosphere within our small, exclusive & highly selective clientele, we have send our graduates back to a productive recovery-based life. With only 5 preferred clients at a time, we exemplify that mainstream high priced rehab is not always the right solution to gain the solid foundation that is so important in your new lifestyle. Monthly pricing ranges anywhere from $2500 double occupancy to $3500 for a single occupancy room. Every resident’s program is customizable to meet their individual needs & any required additional professional recovery services are sought & contracted.
Steve McKenna October 26, 2012 at 07:05 PM
Lastly... I do agree that these types of facilities are an excellent gateway to return recovering addicts to mainstream society, but the proximity of this house to a heavily populated middle school introduces far too many risk factors. You cannot dismiss our community's resistance as a case of NIMBY.... This is a mistake on many levels. By the way... community protests will draw press. Anonymity? NOT HERE!!!!
Terry October 26, 2012 at 08:39 PM
Definitely no anonymity now. Ellen is right, there are recovering (and active) alcoholics/addicts all around us, even teaching in our schools. Why all the concern in having 4 or 5 people in recovery near a school? There is no mention of renting to pedofiles. Now, THAT would be a concern. She is, however, charging an exorbitant amount for a furnished room! Sounds like these people won't even be around during school hours, they will have to be working to pay that amount of rent.
Steve Evans October 26, 2012 at 11:04 PM
I agree - there is nothing to worry about with recovering/active addicts all around us, but why should we believe that this is what is advertised? - She began renovation without a permit, has done nothing with the community to show what she will be doing, is already advertising on the internet and has not been definitive with the amount of people staying - What if the residence becomes an active rehabilitation home with possible heroin and hard core drug users being rehabilitated there? At this point with her track record of hiding things, I don't believe anything she says. At a minimum - She must prove that she has all of the appropriate qualifications to recognize/handle relapses. We have no recourse after the approval.


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