WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Staff and lawyers for Sunrise Detox, which has proposed to open a treatment center at 37 DeKalb Ave., tried to ease concerns over safety at a public hearing Monday before the White Plains Common Council.
William Null, a lawyer for Sunrise, addressed police reports from two of Sunrise’s three other locations that had been brought up at prior public hearings by its opponents in the Carhart Neighborhood Association.
“None of the calls amounted to any criminal activity occurring in any way that affected the safety of the public,” Null said. “There were no instances of any Sunrise patients being arrested for committing crimes against members of the surrounding communities.”
However, Ken Kristal, spokesperson for the Carhart Neighborhood Association, said that there have been reports of missing persons at all three Sunrise locations and that his neighborhood of about 1,700 is more densely populated than Sunrise's current locations in Stirling, N.J., and Fort Lauderdale and Lake Worth, Fla. He said he has not been able to retrieve copies of the missing person reports, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
“As a voluntary facility clients can leave anytime,” Kristal told the Common Council. “This is where patients, at the most vulnerable, unstable, unpredictable and usually most aggressive state, have the opportunity to interact with residents of the community.”
Sunrise submitted an application to the city during the summer for a special permit and site plan approval to operate a short-term, medically supervised detoxification treatment center with up to 33 inpatient beds. All clients would be voluntary and stay an average of 5.7 days. The facility would have limited access, with door alarms, cameras and tracking every half-hour.
Kristal and other Carhart members took issue with Sunrise's applying as a “community residence,” which cannot have more than 14 beds. However, Null said that is why Sunrise is applying for a special permit, which would allow it to conform to the zoning of the neighborhood.
The opponents cited a police report in which a former patient of the Lake Worth facility was arrested at a nearby gas station for possession of a crack pipe. Another incident involved a staff member accused of sexual harassment. That worker was put on unpaid leave and later fired.