Across St. Andrews Lane from the Nassau Country Club and a block north of the Glen Cove train station sits a large two-story home. Made of brick and surrounded by a picket fence and lush trees, it fits in perfectly with the rest of the neighborhood. But it is no longer just one of the homes in the area, because it now houses a Monte Nido group home for men and women with eating disorders, a development that has concerned some Glen Cove residents for over a year.
The City Council unanimously rejected Monte Nido’s proposal for a group home at 1 St. Andrews Lane in February 2018. Shortly after, the company, which specializes in the treatment of eating disorders and is based in Miami, appealed to the New York State Office of Mental Health in an effort to establish the home under the state’s Padavan Law, which states that communities cannot prevent the creation of group homes.
The state ruled in Monte Nido’s favor last May, and the home was renovated. Its interior was rearranged so it could house more than a dozen live-in patients, and an employee parking lot was built in the front yard.
The facility opened on May 8, but several residents remain concerned. Nancy Hawkins, an associate real estate broker at Sotheby’s International Realty in Locust Valley, addressed the City Council at an April 23 meeting. She said that the group home violates city zoning code. After the meeting, Hawkins claimed that, since Monte Nido is a for-profit organization, the facility is technically a business. According to the city zoning map, the house is in an R-2 district, where only residential homes are allowed. Businesses are relegated to one of the city’s four commercial districts.
“We have specific codes in place against operating a business in a residential neighborhood in Glen Cove,” Hawkins said. “This is not a group home, this a commercial treatment center, and they are not adhering to the codes we have in place in Glen Cove.”
The construction of the parking lot on the property is a big issue as well, she added, because, according to city code, parking lots cannot be paved on residential property. She said she welcomed group homes in Glen Cove, but not when they violate zoning laws.
Jennifer Gallagher, chief development officer at Monte Nido, said the facility falls under the Padavan Law, and thus is legally no different from any other home in the neighborhood. “Our program, which is licensed as a community residence under the Padavan Law, is considered a residential use,” Gallagher said. “That statement has been supported by the commissioner of the Office of Mental Health, and then further supported by a State Supreme Court ruling.”
Some of the home’s neighbors are concerned about how it might affect their lives. Sue Corbo, who lives across the street on Highland Road, said she has come to terms with the facility’s presence, although she thinks “they’re in the wrong spot.”
In late April, Corbo said, a truck working on the parking lot ripped up the grass in front of her house, turning it into a patch of dirt, which turns into mud when it rains. Gallagher said she was unaware of the incident, and that Corbo could contact her about fixing the problem. On May 14, Corbo called the Herald Gazette to say that Gallagher was working on it.
Liz McLanahan’s home is the only one adjacent to the Monte Nido house. She said that she supports treatment for people with eating disorders — and that one of her best friends from high school spent years undergoing such treatment — but she worried that the group home’s opening might lead to the establishment of other businesses in the area.
McLanahan claimed that the for-profit use of the Monte Nido house does not fall under the Padavan Law. “Philosophically, this is a test case for what the Padavan Law is for and what it should be for,” she said. She emphasized that she and her neighbors support people who would receive treatment in the house; they just don’t want the neighborhood to be exploited by corporations.
In response, Gallagher said that law covers all kinds of community residences, not just nonprofits. She added that Monte Nido’s patients and employees would have no negative effects on the neighborhood. “We act as respectful neighbors,” Gallagher said. “We don’t park on Highland Road or St. Andrews. We keep our lighting consistent with residential lighting. We will have no signage there. We will be parking our staff in our parking area.”
The patients are typically very quiet, she said, and the parking lot will be buffered by a row of trees.
In response to residents’ complaints — and their request that Monte Nido’s building permit be revoked — the Glen Cove Zoning Board scheduled a public hearing at City Hall on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.