The state Office of Mental Health (OMH) has rejected an application from a California-based residential treatment center to open a facility for teenagers in Armonk.
In an Oct. 11 decision, OMH Commissioner Ann Marie Sullivan cited Paradigm Treatment Centers’ failure to demonstrate public need, a lack of adherence to the agency’s regulatory model and exclusionary criteria for admission as reasons to turn down its Prior Approval Review (PAR) application.
“The application fails to demonstrate sufficient adherence to the regulatory model, which describes a program which is focused on developing and implementing a plan with the youth and family on how to live successfully and productively in a community, attend school or prepare for employment and develop the skills needed to return to more normative environments,” Sullivan’s decision stated in part.
It further mentioned that the agency “emphasizes consumer and family-driven integration in the community, collaboration with other service providers, consumer input and family involvement, and development of community life roles and natural supports.”
Sullivan also wrote that the application insufficiently demonstrated a public need for the program in the community and that it failed to exhibit how it would link to other service providers in the community.
Paradigm began the process for licensing in August 2016 in hopes of moving into a vacant eight-bedroom house at 14-16 Cole Drive. At the same time, it had entered a lease for $25,000 a month with the house’s owner, Ted Mathas, the CEO of New York Life.
When word surfaced last November that the operation was eyeing a quiet residential neighborhood to house up to eight youths at a time suffering from anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and co-occurring dependency issues, there was fierce community pushback.
Neighbors along Cole Drive and Davis Drive said the operation wasn’t needed in the area and the level of activity generated by having an around-the-clock operation would damage the character of the neighborhood.
Opponents pointed out that Paradigm’s request for licensing failed to meet the state’s Padavan Law requirements that allows for group homes in residential settings for the developmentally disabled and residents with other conditions, but not for transient populations.
Some residents were also irked that the program, at a cost of nearly $50,000 a month per client, was to benefit only the affluent, although some of the expense could be picked up by insurance.
Resident William Potvin said he and his neighbors were pleased when they heard of Sullivan’s decision.
“This should be the end of it, but I don’t have any knowledge of their intention,” Potvin said of Paradigm. “A lot of people worked very hard right up to the very end, and are still working hard.”
He said the efforts of the community and the town to mobilize was “100 percent responsible” for defeating the proposal.
Calls placed to Paradigm’s public relations spokesman in New York and to the outfit’s headquarters in Malibu, Calif. were not returned. It had 10 days from the Oct. 11 letter to file for an appeal hearing with OMH.
Beyond that, Paradigm can opt to file an Article 78 in the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court, said North Castle Supervisor Michael Schiliro. Last January, the Town Board unanimously lodged a formal objection to the application, which triggered a commissioner’s hearing in Poughkeepsie last March.
The facility’s representatives during the commissioner’s hearing contended that despite operating multiple facilities in California, they eyed New York because close to one-third of their clients have been New York State residents.
Schiliro said that no one on the board had an issue with Paradigm’s mission, only the location and that in officials’ estimation it failed to comply with the Padavan Law.
“Through the resolutions that we had and the effort that we made, which was to make sure the agencies that were responsible for this understood clearly what our concerns were, and we hoped that they understand it and see it our way,” Schiliro said. “At this point they do in rejecting that application.”