The Northern Westchester Examiner

Substance Abuse Hospital Plans Continue to Trouble Residents

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Water and traffic concerns continue to trouble neighbors of a proposed luxury substance abuse hospital on Quaker Ridge Road in Cortlandt.

More than 50 residents attended a special meeting of the Cortlandt Planning Board a few weeks ago regarding Hudson Ridge Wellness Center’s 92-bed residential treatment center project on 20 acres and came away with more questions than answers.

“There is still a lot of work ahead for the Planning Board and the community to fully understand the scope and impacts of the proposed hospital in our residential community,” said Karen Wells, head of the Greater Teatown Defense Alliance (GTDA). “Given the complexity of what we know now, I would expect a project of this magnitude would require a full Environmental Impact Study.”

Hudson Ridge purchased the property in 2010 and began restoring the seven buildings. The site was once used as a hospital for people suffering from substance abuse. In July 2015, Hudson Ridge submitted an application for a special use permit with a site plan to establish a high-end specialty hospital. Those plans were then stalled by a nine-month moratorium imposed two months later by the Cortlandt Town Board. Hudson Ridge sought to obtain a variance from the Town Board from the moratorium on the basis of a hardship, but were denied.

Much of the discussion at the special meeting in late January between the Planning Board and various consultants hired by the town, Hudson Ridge and residents centered on wells, water usage and traffic.

Residents in the area feel the radius of the water adequacy test Hudson Ridge will be conducting on the property should be increased.

“At the end of the day, if a corporation wants to come into our community and use our natural resources, we should make sure the impact on existing homeowners is fully understood,” said Joel Greenstein, who has experienced water issues in his 20 years living next to Quaker Ridge Road. “To do this fairly, the town should require testing in a half-mile radius and pumping at peak, not average, water usage. Yes, it will cost the corporation a few extra dollars to execute this broader test, but isn’t it only fair to all of the families that already call this our home?”

Another homeowner, Colleen Kirk, said water availability and quality has been a problem for many residents.

“Right now, with no hospital next door, I can use my water during the summer for 45 minutes before my well runs dry,” Kirk said. “We have to be incredibly careful of our water resources in this area, especially during periods of drought or summertime. I just don’t understand how a massive hospital can move in next door and have that not affect my water.”

GTDA and Citizens for Responsible Hudson Institute Site Development (CRHISD) members also questioned the traffic analysis submitted by Hudson Ridge, which estimates vehicles will make 110 trips daily to and from the facility. That estimate is lower than previous counts from the applicant, and lower than estimates made by the town’s consultant.

“Our Town Code does not allow for hospitals to be built on residential roadways for a reason,” said Stephen Hampton, who lives across the street from the site. “It’s not just the character of the community with increased traffic, but a real threat to emergency services on these backroads if they can’t get through these single-lane throughways.”

Hudson Ridge is seeking a variance from the Town Code not requiring the hospital to be constructed on a state roadway. The town’s Zoning Board of Appeals is unable to make a ruling on that request until the Planning Board completes the State Environmental Quality Review Act process.

Robert Davis, an attorney for Hudson Ridge, has said the hospital will provide a lot of benefits to Cortlandt, including providing preferential treatment to town residents.

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