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By Sadef Ali Kully

The South Ozone Park Civic Association West is fighting to pursue its class action suit against service providers for a state juvenile group home program, the Close to Home initiative, in federal court after the city’s Corporation Counsel pushed for its dismissal last week, according to federal court records.

The Corporation Counsel, the legal team for the city, stated in court records that the class action suit lacked validity in the complaints made against the service provider, the federal court records showed.

The class action suit, brought by the 100 member South Ozone Park civic against Sheltering Arms Children and Family Services and KAD Queens, claims that the civic association, homeowners and South Ozone Park residents suffer damage and harm as well as the facility because it fails to comply with state disability regulations.

The suit has stopped the renovation of a former church into a group home, which would house 18 juvenile offenders as part of the state’s Close to Home program. Its goal is to make sure the transition back home for the juvenile is well-planned and supported by aftercare services.

Residents said the proposed center is a danger to children and could drive property values down, especially since three juvenile offenders from a group home in Brooklyn were charged and arrested for the assault and rape a woman in the city, according to the Manhattan DA.

The home occupies two to three lots on 133rd Avenue and 127th Street.

In response to the dismissal filed in federal court, the SOPCAW attorney Natraj Bhushan said the complaints made against service provider and the socio-economic factors of having such a facility in a residential area are facts, not something that was made up. Residents still feel distressed.

Bhushan has asked the federal court to deny the dismissal completely in light of new incidents being reported as well as uphold the construction injunction on the property, according to federal court records.

But the city’s legal department will continue to push for the dismissal of the case because it contends the allegations made against the service providers are insufficient for an injunction.

Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at skully@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4546.

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