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Thursday, October 23, 2014
Mental-health facility applies for rezoning

The Rockville Centre Board of Trustees heard arguments on Nov. 5 as to whether a property in the village should be rezoned to allow for new construction.

South Shore Associaiton for Independent Living (SAIL), made the application for rezoning for the property at 585 Merrick Road, Rockville Centre.

SAIL is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing rehabilitative, clinical treatment and supportive services to individuals with mental illnesses. The community residence located at the Rockville Centre property is specialized for young adults between the ages of 18-25 and is operated in a 24-hour, 7-day a week group home setting and is staffed by three separate shifts.

The representative for SAIL, Charles Russo, attempted to address any concerns that residents might have. He said that in 1986, the village did not challenge the establishment of the facility and even helped develop it in 1990 when Mayor Eugene Murray helped the facility get a grant to expand.

“What’s important to understand, the major theme of our application is that there are 10 residents now and there will be 10 residents if in fact this zoning application is granted,” Russo said. “There is no expansion of proposed beds. In light of the fact that the building is in disrepair, we applied for a grant.”

There will be a change to suites composed of two bedrooms and a little living area for every two residents, in compliance with the new model presented by the New York State Office of Mental Health, Russo said.

According to Russo, the change in the living conditions would require renovation and rezoning, adding that he believed the change should fall under the reasonable accommodation in the Fair Housing Act.

This rezoning application met with resistance from residents, some worrying about the safety hazards these patients might represent

The trustees decided to continue the hearing on the rezoning application for the Dec. 3 Board of Trustees meting.

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