An organization looking to operate a group home in Valhalla for six young adult women with intellectual and developmental disabilities last week refused to allow the town additional time to review the application.
Mount Pleasant Supervisor Carl Fulgenzi said the Town Board was taken aback by YAI/Seeing Beyond Disability’s decision against granting the town a 20-day adjournment, time that is allotted in the state mental hygiene law. Town officials learned of the denial last Thursday. Under the state’s review process for group homes, a municipality has 40 days to respond after being notified of an application for such a facility within its jurisdiction.
“We were quite surprised that they (YAI) denied our request for an extension, especially due to the timing of the notice we received during a holiday period,” Fulgenzi said. “We have always tried to make sure challenging proposals are not scheduled during periods where public input could be hampered. We have received a tremendous amount of e-mail communications, mostly against, that the board needs to review.”
Fulgenzi said because YAI had refused the town’s request for an extension and the opportunity to properly review the proposal, the town attorney has objected on Mount Pleasant’s behalf. The group home would be located at 5 Halsey Place.
Officials believe there is oversaturation of similar facilities in the town. Last month the supervisor said Mount Pleasant is already home to 26 facilities that are off the tax rolls.
A state commissioner’s hearing would be held, probably sometime in the next few months, to determine whether the town’s objection has merit.
Fulgenzi said town officials want to help those in need but nearly one-third of all property in Mount Pleasant is tax exempt. YAI, a Manhattan-based outfit with about 4,000 employees serving more than 20,000 people mostly with autism, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy, has sought an exemption from property taxes, which would cost the taxing entities a combined $17,000 annually.
“I want to make sure that we are prepared for economic challenges that may lie ahead,” Fulgenzi said. “A strong financial position for Mount Pleasant is good for all of us. We have come a long way and we have much to accomplish over the next few years and the infrastructure improvements we are working on are not free.”
Speakers during the Dec. 27 Town Board meeting where the issue was discussed were split on whether the group home should be approved.
Messages left for representatives of YAI and other Town Board members were not returned.