When the new building being constructed at 900 Columbia Street was first proposed in February 2011, it was explained to the Planning Commission that the ten residents of the group home operated there by the Mental Health Association would remain in the historic building until the new facility was completed. When they had been moved to the new facility, the historic house would be demolished to make way for a parking lot.
The timetable changed in June 2013, when the Galvan Foundation requested an extension on their certificate of appropriateness to move the building. According to a letter sent to the Historic Preservation Commission by Walter Ritchie, at the behest of the Galvan Foundation, the historic house could not be moved until the ten residents of the group home had been relocated, but they would be out of the building by the end of July 2013.
Today, as the historic building is being "disassembled," the new building is rising behind it. But what happened to the ten people that made up the group home at 900 Columbia Street?
When Gossips spoke with Daniel Kent, executive director for the Galvan Foundation, on Wednesday, he confirmed that they had been moved out, on schedule, at the end of July. When asked where they had gone, he first said he didn't know and then said the question should be directed to the Mental Health Association.
Weeks ago, it was rumored that the residents of the MHA group home would be moved to 67-71 North Fifth Street, a property owned and recently reconstructed by the Galvan Foundation. Evidence now suggests that those rumors may have been true.
Although the exterior of the building remains only partially painted, there are curtains, which are always drawn, at all of the windows, and neighbors report seeing furniture being delivered to all three units at the same time by the same truck. The new residents rarely appear in front of the building but seem to congregate, according to reports, under a canopy tent in the backyard.
If the residents of the MHA group home have, in fact, been relocated to 67-71 North Fifth Street, this raises some questions. The building, now a triple house as it had been historically, is located in an area that is zoned R-2. According to Hudson code (Chapter 325-8 B and 325-7 B), "Hospitals, sanitariums, philanthropic or eleemosynary institutions and convalescent or nursing homes or homes for the aged" are a conditional use in an R-2 District, subject to the approval of the Planning Commission, provided that "such hospital, institution or home does not primarily care for patients suffering from alcoholism and is not a transitional service facility."
When advocates for the preservation of 900 Columbia Street tried to persuade the Mental Health Association to sell the historic house and locate elsewhere, MHA maintained that the constraints of Hudson's zoning made this impossible. If it is now true that MHA has relocated its clients to this Galvan-owned property in an R-2 District, they seem to have found a way to skirt the city's zoning laws.
COPYRIGHT 2013 CAROLE OSTERINK