HERKIMER, N.Y. - The Herkimer Zoning Board of Appeals reviewed the application for a mental health facility on State Route 28 near Schrader Hill Rd. and they denied the proposal.
The public hearing was at Herkimer Town Hall and over a dozen people attended the meeting Wednesday night. The board originally denied the proposal for a hospital, so this time around, the discussion was about what the difference is between a hospital and a mental health facility.
The executive director of the Neighborhood Center, who owns the currently vacant building, says this facility would be a 30-45 day inpatient, residential treatment center. She says this establishment would be part of the solution to reduce addiction in the area because currently, in Herkimer County, there is no other place for people with addictions to seek help.
Herkimer county legislator, Robert Schrader, did not want to talk with us on camera but he voiced some of his concerns. He says a top concern is security. While the facility planned to have on-site security, it would be a voluntary operation, so patients could leave when they want, and for Schrader, and neighbors, that is a concern. One neighbor says she would have to start locking her doors, which she never had to do before.
Another concern is where the facility would be located.
"There's a concern that it might be detrimental in the neighborhood because people will be hanging out and bringing drugs and things like and that's just not the reality," Sandra Soroka, executive director for Neighborhood Center said. "It is a controlled environment and we want it to be really safe and a holistic healing place."
Residents are also concerned about it being harmful for the community, but representatives for the facility say a vacant building can be more harmful.
"You know nature is not kind to empty buildings and to be honest I think that's more of a hazard to a community," Soroka said.
The vote to turn this proposal down was unanimous and the next step is unknown at this time. But we were told, this case could be taken to court.