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Highland looking at therapeutic center

Donald “Jeff” Haas and Amanda “Mandy” Scully are pictured after Highland’s December 10 town board meeting. Ending her term, Councilwoman Scully was serving at her last regular monthly meeting. Haas, who ran unopposed last fall, will become Councilman Haas at the board’s January 2 organizational meeting.
TRR photo by David Hulse

By David Hulse
December 18, 2013

Town of Highland planners are considering zoning changes that would allow the Stepping Forward Therapeutic Center to open a facility at the former Sokol Woodlands property on Mail Road.

Attorney Terry Forman outlined the proposal before the town board at their December 10 meeting, explaining that the town’s zoning does not allow that use, nor its former use as a camp, which he said “leaves the property valueless.”

The former camp was grandfathered as a non-conforming use.

He said Stepping Forward is a for-profit organization and the now-vacant property would remain on the tax rolls, and the business would employ 30 to 35 persons, for a summer program catering to about 100 school-age children with neurological and psychological problems, “much like a stay-over camp.”

The camp would be licensed by the New York State Department of Health.

The company’s other facility, in Chatham, NJ serves children referred by local school districts, he said.

During the remainder of the year, the facility would host parent counseling weekends for their clients’ families.

Supervisor Andrew Boyar explained that a recommendation for a zoning change must originate at the planning board, before the town board considers it. Boyar said the boards would need specific business planning information from the applicant.

Forman said the applicant would hope for early action, to allow time to make needed repairs on the property.

“The planning board makes its own decisions,” Boyar said.

The board later approved a resolution requesting that planners consider the zoning change that would be needed for the proposal.

In other business, the board:

• Surplused an office printer and computer on the (CEO) code enforcement officer’s recommendation;

• Accepted, with regret, the resignation of CEO clerk Lisa Donnelly and approved advertisement for a replacement for the position, who would also train as a bookkeeper;

• Approved the $107,000 purchase of a Caterpillar backhoe loader for the highway department which, with a $15,000 trade-in on the town’s old machine, would amount to a $92,000 outlay;

• Approved a resolution to transfer possession of PennDOT-prepared construction maps for the 1940 interstate bridge at Barryville to Shohola Township Historian George J. Fluhr;

• Scheduled an organizational meeting for Thursday, January 2 at 7 p.m., and set the first regular monthly meeting for January 14, at 7 p.m.