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Hearing to be held about group home proposal in Eden

The Eden Town Board has been notified that a formal hearing will be scheduled about the proposed group home for the developmentally disabled.

Supervisor Glenn Nellis received a letter from the state Office for People with Developmental Disabilities on Thursday informing the board that the department plans to set a hearing.

The department issued no opinion about the proposal and gave no details about the hearing’s date or location.

“I expect to hear from them next week,” Nellis said.

He anticipates the hearing will occur in Town Hall because hearings about group homes in other towns have been conducted in town halls.

In the letter, the department’s attorney wrote that Community Services for the Developmentally Disabled exercised its right to request a formal hearing.

The organization, based on Oak Street in the City of Buffalo, has proposed constructing a group home on vacant land at 8621 Jennings Road.

Eden Board of Education and Town Board members approved written statements opposing the proposal on July 1 and 8, respectively. They cited an “overconcentration” of group homes in the town. Once it received the Town Board’s statement, the state department had 15 days to respond.

There are currently five group homes and a vocational center for the developmentally disabled in the town, along with a pair of group homes for recovering alcoholics. Both boards wrote that the town has more group homes per capita than surrounding towns.

Residents objected to the proposal during a standing-room-only Town Board meeting June 24. Many voiced fears of convicted sex offenders or other criminals living there.

Officials and residents have also expressed worries about a high-pressure natural gas pipeline that runs through the property at the East Church Street intersection.

Town Board members also listed traffic, a lack of sewers and sidewalks, archaeological sensitivities and a possible rise in police and fire calls as concerns.

A Community Services representative acknowledged during the Town Board meeting June 24 that questions remain.

Mindy Cervoni, the organization’s chief operating officer and vice president of programs, said the home could house four to six adults or adolescents. She did not know whether they would be male or female or how much supervision they would need.

When asked whether sex offenders might live there, she responded, “We would consider it.”