The Examiner

New Castle Pediatric Nursing Home Proposal Provokes Local Ire

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The front of Sunshine Children’s Home and Rehab Center in the far western section of New Castle is looking to add about 128,000 square feet of space to its current 19,000-square-foot facility.
The front of Sunshine Children’s Home and Rehab Center in the far western section of New Castle is looking to add about 128,000 square feet of space to its current 19,000-square-foot facility.

An escalating battle between a New Castle pediatric nursing facility and some neighboring residents resumes before the Zoning Board of Appeals this week as the applicant seeks approvals for a major expansion project.

Sunshine Children’s Home and Rehab Center on 33 acres at 15 Spring Valley Rd. is pursuing an amended special permit and area variances to construct a 128,451-square-foot, two-story addition to its current facility. If approvals are granted, it would increase the number of beds from 54 to 122.

The current primary building is just under 19,000 square feet and would be connected to the new structure. There is also an auxiliary building that currently houses some of the rehabilitation and education programs.

A public hearing is scheduled to reconvene at New Castle Town Hall Wednesday night as part of the ZBA meeting that starts at 7 p.m.

The center, which cares for children with dire medically complex and rehabilitative needs, is one of only nine facilities in New York State that provides dedicated pediatric nursing, according to the application submitted to the town in March. It is owned by Spring Valley Road LLC and MSAF Group LLC, which bought the facility in 2009. The center has operated as a home for children with medical needs since the early 1960s.

“The mission of the ownership of this organization is to create something of beauty. It’s home,” said Linda Mosiello, a registered nurse who worked at the facility when it was operated by St. Mary’s and is now an administrator. “We need to allow these families to have peace of mind.”

Mosiello said Sunshine’s goal is to give the children and families as much normalcy as possible despite often facing grave medical challenges. Sunshine Children’s Home is not a hospital, but serves as a rehabilitation center while also providing early intervention programs for newborns to three-year-olds, preschool special education services and a full-day primary and secondary level education program administered through Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES, Mosiello said. All are state approved programs.

However, the cramped quarters, forcing staff to place three children in a room and use makeshift space such as converting storage areas and closets into doctors’ offices and conference rooms, highlights how outdated the current facility is, she said. A waiting list for admission is also growing, in excess of 60 names, according to the applicant’s submission.

An opposition group with more than 200 members, Concerned Citizens for Responsible Sunshine Home Development, has argued that the proposed expansion would multiply the size of the current building by nearly eight times in a heavily wooded and rural area. It also states that in addition to the 122 beds there would be 187 staff members, which would significantly increase traffic.

The group, which has spelled out its full scope of issues on a website,, also cites the environmentally sensitive area containing steep slopes of up to 25 percent and large amounts of wetlands. The town has failed to require an Environmental Impact Statement despite the parcel being in an overlay district.

Approval would set dangerous precedents, making it easier for  large commercial projects to be built, opponents argue.

“While this project may be located in the far corners of New Castle, the current bodies considering the proposal put the entire community at risk,” the website states. “If the expansion is allowed to be built as proposed, the Town will have established zoning precedents that would make it legally difficult to impossible to deny other commercial applicants.

Campaign-style signs on Spring Valley Road in New Castle and on Cedar Lane in Ossining have sprouted, calling the project “Walmart in the Woods,” because it would be about 50 percent larger than one of the chain’s average-sized stores.

Mosiello said there are people in the area with legitimate questions and concerns about the project, but there has also been inaccurate information dispensed to the public.

“We think that the misinformation that’s out there, we’re not sure why it’s out there but it is and we’ve been saying over and over, anyone who doesn’t understand, come up that hill, come see what we have done and tried to be,” Mosiello said.

She said with so few facilities in New York State providing the level of care offered at Sunshine Children’s Home, families often have to look out of state, which creates more hardships and increases Medicaid costs.

“These kids aren’t going anywhere,” Mosiello added. “There is nowhere for them to go.”

The amended special permit would allow expansion of the facility. The two variances are needed because under town code nursing homes in residential districts must have frontage or direct access to a state or county road; Spring Valley Road is a town road. Also, the property currently allows only 83 beds.

A steep slope permit must be obtained from the planning board and there is the possibility a local wetlands permit is needed, although the applicant’s submissions point out there is no direct wetlands disturbance.






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