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Proposed White Plains Detox Center Stalls Before Council

An application for a medically supervised detox facility in White Plains cannot move forward with the Common Council until a variance is applied for with the Zoning Board of Appeals.
An application for a medically supervised detox facility in White Plains cannot move forward with the Common Council until a variance is applied for with the Zoning Board of Appeals. Photo Credit: Sunrise White Plains Application

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Residents in White Plains' Carhart Neighborhood say they won the first round against plans to build a detoxification center on 37 DeKalb Ave. after the city Building Commissioner Damon Amadio said it doesn’t conform with local zoning.

As a result, the common council cannot take any further action on the application by Sunrise Detox, John Callahan, city attorney, wrote in a letter to the council Thursday.

Sunrise Detox submitted an application to the city in the summer for a special permit and site plan approval to operate a short-term, medically-supervised detoxification center with up to 33 inpatient beds. All clients would be voluntary and would stay an average of 5.7 days. The facility would have limited access, with door alarms, cameras and tracking every half-hour.

Sunrise applied for the special permit to operate as a “community residence,” which would allow it to conform to the neighborhood zoning. However, Amadio found that the facility didn’t meet the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services’ (OASAS) definition of a “community residence,” which he said in a letter to the council is for people, “who are completing or have completed a course of treatment.”

The building department found that Sunrise falls into the category of “crisis services,” which Amadio wrote are provided early in the recovery process and typically last three to five days and include medically supervised withdrawal in either an inpatient or outpatient setting.

Therefore, Sunrise would be classified as a hospital or sanitaria, which wouldn't be permitted under zoning laws in the Carhart neighborhood.

Although the council cannot take any further action on the matter, the applicant may appeal this decision or apply for a variance with the Zoning Board of Appeals.

In a Dec. 19 letter , the applicant claimed that even if the city found Sunrise White Plains is not a “community residence,” it should determine Sunrise White Plains is the “functional equivalent” of one.

Members of the Carhart Neighborhood Association took issue with Sunrise's application as a "community residence," as well as safety issues they said would result from opening a detox facility in a residential neighborhood.  The issues were brought up at three public hearings .

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