CB 7 approves group home for Flushing neighborhood

By Cynthia Koons

Community Board 7 unanimously approved a group home for developmentally disabled adults in Flushing Monday night despite complaints from residents who said they were not adequately notified about the board’s hearing on the project.

“This should not have been voted on this evening because of the lack of notification,” said William Mohr, a resident of the neighborhood where the home will be constructed.

“Some of my neighbors didn’t even get a notice,” said his wife, Sonia Mohr, at the CB 7 meeting held at Union Plaza Care Center, 33-23 Union St.

CB 7 had to vote on the group home proposal Monday evening because the meeting fell within the 40-day period within which a letter is sent and an approval is given to a proposal.

Monday night was the only public hearing on this project. Residents are notified about meetings that deal with development in their neighborhoods through fliers distributed by committee members. CB 7’s “yes” vote on Monday night signified the community’s official approval of the project.

“Many people couldn’t even rearrange their schedules to be here,” William Mohr said. “Where in that 40 days was the notice to the community?”

The Mohrs wanted to express their concern about having 10 people live in a house at 33-15 153rd St. Their house on the street, which is even larger, tightly fits four residents, they said.

The Association for the Advancement of Blind and Retarded Inc., the group proposing the home, assured residents that the floor plans were sufficient for the seven residents and three attendants.

“I guarantee you it will be a wonderful home in Flushing,” said Christopher Weldon, executive director of the AABR. “I promise the best-looking house on the block.”

Other area residents spoke in defense of group homes, citing examples of similar facilities in which their family members live.

“Fred’s been living in a group home for four years,” Jay Walker, a College Point resident, said of his brother.

“Since being in the group home he’s made tremendous improvements,” he said. “He’s learning how to interact with his peers, outside people. I’m grateful to the AABR.”

Ralph Picarelli, a Flushing resident whose sister is developmentally disabled, said the AABR houses are kept in excellent condition.

“I heard one man speaking about 10 people in the house and I can understand that — I’m an Italian, we had eight people in a railroad apartment,” he joked.

AABR representatives said the home will be staffed with a manager and two assistants. There is a staff member present at all times and the overnight shift is monitored by two awake counselors.

“The association has a great recruitment and screening process,” said Joanna Vargas, whose brother lives in a College Point group home. “The minimum it will do to your community is improve it.”

The community board voted unanimously to approve the project with one member not voting due to a conflict of interest.

Reach reporter Cynthia Koons by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 141.

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