Proposed Congregate Care Facility In Greenlawn Sparks Debate

By Connor Beach

Several Greenlawn residents want answers about a special use permit sought as part of a 7,000- to 8,000-square-foot group home proposed for Cuba Hill Road.

During a public hearing on the proposal, the Huntington Town Board heard from 14 residents, several of whom raised concerns about Northport-based nonprofit K.I.D.S. Plus’ plan to open a congregate care facility for adults with disabilities who are 21 or older at 145 Cuba Hill Road in Greenlawn.

“This is my dream,” said Tammie Topel, founder and president of K.I.D.S. Plus, which offers low-cost activities for children with physical and/or mental disabilities. Topel said the home is designed to house eight individuals with physical or developmental disabilities, and would have constant monitoring by a care manager from K.I.D.S. Plus.

“Someone will be there 24 hours a day, and health and safety are our main concern,” Topel said. “Most of the individuals will go to work or a volunteer activity during the day and come home in the evening. It’s not going to be a residence that has loud parties or people who have been on drugs or are in recovery.”

Neighbors of the property expressed concerns over a lack of information about the proposal, and several said they knew nothing about the group home prior to attending the public hearing.

“We want to be partners with you, and we want to be understanding, but to ask us to accept an 8,000-square-foot home without any information is just unfair,” Greenlawn resident Manan Shah said.

Other residents of Cuba Hill Road and the surrounding area said they felt the area is already saturated with group homes, and that an 8,000-square-foot home would not fit into a community where the biggest homes are around 3,000 square feet.

“Within a mile of my home, there are three group homes already, and this would be a fourth. At this point I think that four is just too much,” said William Whitcomb, a 10-year resident of Cuba Hill Road.

Huntington Supervisor Frank Petrone said the town is partially responsible for calling the public hearing before Topel and KIDS Plus provided the neighboring residents with the information necessary to make an informed decision about the proposal.

“We will not entertain this until that process is finished, so it’s not being voted on tonight, and when that process is done, that is when the board will entertain it,” Petrone said after the hearing.

“I want to commend the community tonight for coming out without any information and for being respectful with your questions, and for approaching this in a way we like to see,” Petrone said. “I think we have the ingredients here for two parties that can get together to talk and try to resolve some concerns.”