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B’hurst Balks At New Group Home Planned For West 7th Street

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The building of a Bensonhurst group home was delayed a month after irate neighbors, who claimed they had been left in the dark, shouted it down at a Community Board 11 meeting. “The applicant did not meet prior with the folks in the neighborhood, and that’s pretty much a requirement of the law,” said Howard Feuer, the district manager for Community Board 11. “The applicant is required to meet with interested families. There was a failure to do that, so we tabled the vote to give the applicant the time to do that.” A vote on the proposal would have taken place at Holy Family Home, 1740 84th Street, had it not been tabled by CB 11. The issue will now get a vote at next month’s meeting. CB 11 Chairman William Guarinello originally said that the developer had spoken to neighbors. But many of those neighbors quickly – and loudly – rejected that statement from across the room. “I’m two houses away and they haven’t met wit me,” yelled one angry senior citizen. Guarinello then suggested CB 11 delay the vote for a month so those behind the project – namely one Richard Murray – could meet with the neighbors and explain it in detail. The measure passed unanimously. The group home, proposed for 1586 West 7th Street between Avenues O and P, would house around five functionally retarded adults with around-the-clock supervision. They would have some interaction with the community, including doing shopping and other activities in the area. City law requires that the Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities notify the community of its intent to build. The community has a number of options, including approving the site or suggesting alternative locations. The community may also reject a group home outright because the neighborhood is already oversaturated with such facilities, and adding another would “alter the character and nature of the community,” the law says. “[Oversatur­ation] obviously isn’t a problem here,” Guarinello said. “The first thing that a project does is look into saturation.” Oversaturation is, in fact, the only reason the community may object to a group home. If a community can not prove to the appropriate commissioner that it would be oversaturated with such facilities, or supply an alternative location, its appeal will be denied and the home built anyway. Sal DaLuca, who lives on the same block as the proposed group home, said nobody had come to him about it. But he said that even if they had – and if they do – he’d still be against it. Theresa Palermo, who lives on the same West 7th St. block, was similarly distressed by the possibility of having the group home on her block, just two houses away. She said the Alcoholics Anonymous meetings around the corner from her home, at the Democratic Club at 223 Kings Highway, already causes “enough trouble” for the neighborhood. And the fact that there are two schools in the immediate area – P. S. 177, 346 Avenue P, and Seth Low Intermediate School 96, 99 Avenue P – only complicates things. “We don’t need that,” Palermo said. “I work at a doctor’s office, and I have nothing against developmentally disabled people. But it’s just not fair.” Her boyfriend, Joey, was distressed at what the group home could do to property values on the block and the neighborhood. “I’m sure that the people who just spent $600,000 or $700,000 on homes here will be happy to see this thing built,” he said. “Would you spend $600,000 for a house on that block? Instead of bringing it up, it’s bringing the neighborhood down.”

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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