Fate of Yorktown Sober Home to be Decided at July 18 Public Hearing

The sober living residence formerly known as Constellations Recovery is located at 482 Underhill Ave. Credits: Facebook

YORKTOWN, N.Y. – The town board has called for a public hearing to determine whether to revoke the special-use permit it awarded in March 2015 to allow for the operation of a sober living residence at 482 Underhill Ave.

The ownership of the property, previously zoned for single-family residential use, changed hands on Thursday, May 11, when Tom McCrossan and Mark McGoldrick sold it to Justin Gurland, Matthew Rinklin and Zachary Clark for $1.25 million.

A July 18 public hearing has been called to determine whether the March 2015 special-use permit for a convalescent home should transfer to the new owners. The permit allowed McCrossan and McGoldrick to operate a for-profit sober living residence out of the 8,470-square-foot home, housing as many as 14 recovering drug and alcohol addicts at a time.

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That permit was approved with a list of conditions, one of which concerned the status of the permit should the ownership of the property change. According to Condition No. 15, the permit “shall be considered null and void” if the new owner or operator of the sober living residence does not involve either McCrossan or McGoldrick.

According to a letter sent by Gurland, Rinklin and Clark to Town Attorney Michael J. McDermott, both McCrossan and McGoldrick plan to stay on as operators of the sober home.

McCrossan and McGoldrick purchased the home in April 2014 for $1.2 million. After a contentious and lengthy approval process, which included multiple lawsuits, they operated a sober living residence, called Constellations Recovery, out of the home for about a year before closing last summer in the wake of an overdose death of one of its residents.

McDermott, in his reply, said that because the property changed hands, the new owners must apply for a special-use permit in order to operate a sober living residence. If they do so without obtaining a new permit, McDermott said, he would take Gurland, Rinklin and Clark to court.

Charles Martarbano, attorney for the new homeowners, disagreed with McDermott’s interpretation of the special-use permit conditions, saying McCrossan and McGoldrick staying on as operators satisfies that condition of the permit.

Martarbano, in his letter to McDermott, also states that the possession of a special-use permit is moot, as his clients would be able to operate the home under the town’s definition of a “family.” This argument was also made by McCrossan and McGoldrick when they applied for the special-use permit several years ago.

On Nov. 25, 2014, Supervisor Michael Grace seemed to affirm this, when he said, “They could go over there, they can take their eight or nine or 12 people and operate as a single-family in that house today. They didn’t need to come to us.”

Grace, however, in a Monday phone interview with Yorktown News, walked backed his years-old argument, saying the parameters have changed. In Constellations Recovery’s eight months of operation, from May 2015 to January 2016, there was an overdose death of a teen resident and allegation of sexual assault by one the home’s employees. An investigation by the Yorktown Police Department into the latter incident was ruled “inconclusive.”

“We have had incidents over there and it’s apparent the previous owner/operations manager was unable to have it function as it was intended to function because it was too difficult,” Grace said. “Now you’ve proved that it can’t really function as a single-family residence. It’s much more akin to a business.”

The town’s definition of family is: “One or more persons occupying a dwelling unit and living as a single housekeeping unit with kitchen facilities and other rooms used in common.”

Grace said the town was not notified of the change of ownership, which was a violation of a condition of the special-use permit. Any violation of the permit, he said, allows the town board to review it, which the board will do on July 18 at town hall.

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