Briarcliff Manor neighbors fight plans to turn mansion into eating disorder group home

Marcus Solis Image
Thursday, May 12, 2016
Battle brewing over plans to turn mansion into treatment facility
EMBED <>More Videos

Marcus Solis is live in Westchester County with the latest details.

BRIARCLIFF MANOR, Westchester County (WABC) -- There is a battle brewing over a mansion in Westchester County and the plans to turn it into a treatment facility for eating disorders.

It's one of Westchester's multimillion dollar mansions, sitting on four acres next to Trump National Golf Club in Briarcliff Manor.

But in a manner of months, the house, built by the village's founding father, could be a group home for teens battling eating disorders.

It would be the first of its kind in the state and not everyone is on board.

"It's not about the use, it's about whether or not they should have the right to open up this multinational business in our neighborhood," said Adam Wachtel, a homeowner.

Wachtel is among a group of homeowners suing Monte Nido, a for profit company that operates in five states.

Monte Nido plans to convert the 8,000 square foot home into a residential treatment center for eight adolescent girls and a staff of 11.

Opponents claim the proposal violates the Padavan law, which allows group homes to be placed in residential areas to help those from the community.

"To reintegrate them back into said community, that's not what this company does. What they do is take people in from all over the world and the courts have shown that the need is supposed to be locally based," Wachtel said.

"It's very secluded, there's not going to be a sign out front, so nobody's going to know what's going on there and nobody should know what's going on in there, they need privacy," said Jen Cook, a homeowner.

Cook is one resident who supports the project health advocate Nancy Turette is advising Monte Nido and says she had few local options when her daughter battled anorexia years ago.

"The only way to enable her to free her brain from the eating disorder was to send her to residential care, and the residential care we sent her to was thousands of miles away," Turette said.

As for the legality of not limiting the facility to local residents..."I think it's a question of who needs to be in a community residence at what point in time, and those who need it most are those who are going to get access to it," said David Steinmetz, of Zarin & Steinmetz.

"If they will stick with what we believe the law is and that is opening this facility just to Westchester kids, I'll welcome them to the neighborhood," Wachtel said.