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The Cortlandt Planning Board is close to rendering a decision on the site plan for a proposed luxury drug and alcohol rehabilitation specialty hospital that has been closely scrutinized for the last eight years.
Last week, planners closed a public hearing on the Hudson Ridge Education and Wellness Center to utilize a 48-acre site on Quaker Ridge Road to serve up to 52 patients, down from 92 that was originally sought in 2015.
The property is near Teatown Lake Reservation, a 1,000-acre nonprofit nature preserve and environmental education center with 15 miles of hiking trails and a two-acre island refuge.
Over time, the application has caught the attention of officials and residents in Ossining and New Castle. New Castle officials have been concerned about increased water and sewer use in the area, and Glendale Road being used by vehicles traveling to the site.
The former Hudson Institute site encompasses 20 acres in Cortlandt and 28 acres in New Castle.
Last April, the Planning Board voted 6-1 to issue a negative declaration under the state Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) stating the project should not have significant adverse environmental impacts. The decision allowed Hudson Wellness Center to avoid preparing a lengthy and costly Environmental Impact Statement.
On Sept. 27, 2022, the Zoning Board of Appeals granted a variance since Town Code requires hospitals in residential zones to be on state roads. Quaker Ridge Road is not a state road.
Robert Davis, an attorney for Hudson Wellness, said at the Apr. 4 meeting an application had been submitted in February to the state Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) for Behavioral Management Group, Inc. to operate the facility.
Planning Board Chairman Steven Kessler said OASAS must sign off on the project or else it will reach a dead end.
“If they do their due diligence and background checks on the operator, that’s good enough for me,” he said.
Planner Jeffrey Rothfeder wasn’t as optimistic, saying, “This board has been skeptical of this OASAS thing from some time now.”
Jill Greenstein of Quaker Hill Drive questioned why Hudson Wellness didn’t apply sooner to OASAS.
“My feeling is something else is going on here,” she said. “Everything is like pulling teeth. There’s always some secrecy here. It’s suspect.”
Davis called the accusations of Hudson Wellness not being forthcoming with information “preposterous.”
The backers of Hudson Ridge Wellness Center have spent nearly $3 million to buy three parcels of land, paid attorneys and consultants hundreds of thousands of dollars, carried property taxes of nearly $400,000 (although sometimes paying late) and renovated the existing buildings on the site to the tune of $1.5 million.
The Planning Board will be discussing a draft resolution for the site plan on May 2, with a final vote likely to take place at its June 6 meeting.
Rick has more than 40 years’ experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, running the gamut from politics and crime to sports and human interest. He has been an editor at Examiner Media since 2012. Read more from Rick’s editor-author bio here. Read Rick’s work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/pezzullo_rick-writer/