YORKTOWN, N.Y.-Two health care professionals have confirmed to Yorktown News that a sober living operation is still in business at 482 Underhill Ave., months after the Town Board revoked the facility’s special-use permit.
A health care professional told Yorktown News that they have done business with Release Recovery, which is owned by Zachary Clark and Justin Gurland, and their company has a collaborative working relationship with it, referring clients to each other.
“We have worked with them and they are sober living,” the health professional said. “They do really some fantastic work; really good, phenomenal work.”
Another health care professional also confirmed to Yorktown News that Clark and Gurland are operating a sober living business at the residentially zoned home. The professional said they have been inside the home, which had seven residents at the time of their visit.
Yorktown News asked Gurland to confirm that he is operating a sober living residence with Clark, but he declined to comment.
Clark, Gurland and Matthew Rinklin purchased the 8,470-square-foot home in May for $1.25 million from Thomas McCrossan and Mark McGoldrick. They have since transferred the deed of the home to DOAH Property LLC.
Town Attorney Michael J. McDermott said when the special-use permit was revoked, the Underhill Avenue home reverted back to a single-family use.
“The building can be occupied as a single-family residence,” McDermott said. “Just because there are people coming in and out of the building doesn’t mean it’s an improper use of the building.”
McDermott said the town will take no action at this point because it needs probable cause to investigate the use of the Underhill Avenue home.
“The town has restrictions on what it can do as far as investigations,” McDermott said. “In order for us to take any steps further, we have to have specific information that says they’re operating as a sober house. The conjecture and the hearsay and the rumor mill doesn’t do it for us.”
Yorktown News declined to provide the town with the names of the health care professionals to protect their identities.
Attorneys for Release Recovery have argued that the special-use permit is inconsequential, as the facility falls under the town’s definition of a “family”—“one or more persons occupying a dwelling unit and living as a single housekeeping unit with kitchen facilities and other rooms used in common.”
Sober living residences do not provide any on-site medical or psychiatric treatment and are intended to help people with addictions transition back into society following a stay in rehabilitation. Residents are usually referred to the facilities by health care professionals and are admitted on a voluntary basis.
The previous owners also operated a sober living residence, Constellations Recovery, for 13 months, but closed in June 2016 following the overdose death of Hank McWilliam, an 18-year-old who was living in the home.
McWilliam’s parents, James and Catherine, recently filed a lawsuit against Constellations Recovery, faulting the facility for their son’s death. They have also publicly spoken out against sober living, which, they said, is a lucrative and largely unregulated industry.
Constellations Recovery opened in May 2015 following the Town Board’s approval of a special-use permit for a convalescent home. The permit, awarded despite objections from neighbors, allowed McCrossan and McGoldrick to operate the for-profit facility, housing as many as 14 recovering drug and alcohol addicts at a time.
Two months after Clark, Gurland and Rinklin purchased the home, the Town Board voted, 4-0, to revoke its special-use permit. The board argued that, as per conditions of the permit, a change in ownership voided it.
Two days later, the owners of Release Recovery, who have previous experience in sober living, filed a federal lawsuit, alleging discrimination against people living with addiction. The lawsuit was dropped in October and the town was never served.