On December 27, 2018, the Town Board conducted a public information session where the proposed operator of a group home (YAI) proposed to be located at 5 Halsey Place Valhalla, New York (the “Site”) made a presentation and answered numerous questions from the Town Board and the public concerning the siting of a group home for mentally disabled adults.
a. Mental Hygiene Law Section 41.34
It is important to note that the Town does not approve or reject the proposed facility at the Site. The approval of the facility at the Site is solely within the authority of the State of New York and the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities. In essence, the State law has pre-empted local municipalities (the Town) on the siting of facilities similar to the one proposed by YAI at the Site. Under New York Mental Hygiene Law Section 41.34 (the Padavan Law), the Town is limited to:
(1) approving the Site; (2) proposing alternate sites; (3) object, within 40 days, to the Site on the limited grounds that the establishment of the facility would result in an overconcentration of community residential facilities that would substantially alter the character and nature of the area; or (4) staying silent.
If the Town timely objects to the Site, then a hearing will be conducted before the State on the overconcentration and substantial alteration issues and the decision from the State would be made on these two issues. An Article 78 proceeding could then be pursued by either side depending on the State’s decision. The State’s decision rarely, if ever, finds overconcentration or substantial alteration and such decision is rarely overturned by a Court. It is noted that the Town did object (in 2001 and 2014) to the siting of two (2) previous facilities in the Town based on the statutory criteria and both objections were rejected by the State and the Courts.
b. The Town’s Action To Date
Prior to New Year, the Town requested that YAI extend the Town’s time to consider the facility at the Site so that the Town and the residents are better informed of YAI’s proposal. The Town is still waiting to hear back from YAI on the requested extension.