Neighbors Voice Concerns About Group Home in Community

By Dragon Image

By: Sharon Aron Baron

A mysterious letter appeared in the mailboxes of the Oakwood community letting them know that one of their homes would be converted into an assisted living facility and could very well become a future drug or alcohol rehab house with no provisions regulating the disposal of hazardous waste.

Resident Greg Brown said he received the letter from his neighbor Marlene Reed. When we contacted her, she explained that she received the anonymous letter in her own mailbox.  Reed, who lives four houses away from home on the 700 block of NW 100 Lane said she was concerned about an assisted living facility moving in, and was angry the city had nothing in their code to let nearby residents know.

It’s a wide-open thing and the city has no formal notification for the residents,” she said.

She was also concerned the owners would change it to something else once they set it up as an assisted living facility.

It’s under a huge umbrella,” she said. “You can be called an assisted living or a group home. Those two words can be many, many things. You can have a drug and alcohol rehab, hospice, or parolees in a halfway house.”

Built in 1979, the home located south of Atlantic Boulevard and west of University Drive was purchased in 2000 by its current owners who now live out of state. Having difficulties  selling it this past year, they leased it to Alex Dominguez and Associates, a provider of residential services. Dominguez told Coral Springs Talk that he had no plans to turn it into a drug or rehab house. 

“That is going to be a group home, and truthfully that is where I want to leave it.”

He said the ages of the children that will be placed in the home will be between 13 and 22.  He stressed that a 22-year-old may have the same interests and function as a 13-year-old and they all would have autism and related disabilities. The maximum capacity is six in any home, and there will be an average of three people on staff. Depending on sleep habits, there would be 1-2 adults with them at night. 

According to the City of Coral Springs, the home is protected by the Fair Housing Act which states that facilities that house disabled or handicapped individuals are generally not required to be licensed by the State.

Resident Michelle O’Leary is concerned that it will affect the value of their homes with the extra traffic it would receive from multiple people living there when they receive visits from doctors, nurses, people picking them up, or for medication deliveries. 

“It brings traffic into what is supposed to be a community for families,” she said.

Dominguez, who has has a PhD in Applied Behavior Analysis said that the State places the children with disabilities, which includes autism and related disabilities, in the home because there are needs for these types of families, making the community residential treatment setting necessary. 

“The parents aren’t discarding them. They need specialized placement.  These are not children who are psychotic or drug abusers,” he said. “They [parents] place these kids and they love them and it’s a very difficult decision when they place them. They take them out for visits, but they just cannot have them full-time.  It’s hard.”

Dominguez said they try to give these individuals a quality of life in a community-based setting and do not disrupt the community-at-large. The State only recommends children to this type of setting only if it fits them.

The City of Coral Springs permits group homes and currently has eight through various agencies. Dominguez’ agency is the provider for three. The city’s zoning requirement states there cannot be two within 1,000 feet from one another.  Another stipulation is that all homes must have working sprinklers and fire alarms which Dominguez anticipates the building department to clear within the week.

He believes the home in Oakwood will start housing individuals in a few months, however, would not start at full capacity. First, they would start with referrals, then analyze those referrals to find the appropriate placement.

“I’m concerned,” said O’Leary. “ I have an eight-year-old daughter and we don’t like the traffic as it is because people have a tendency to go fast – and there are little kids.  So putting in more traffic for people that don’t know there are kids living on the block, that’s not good for our kids.”

Dominguez said he is open to talk to any residents about the home at admin@dominguezgrouphome.com as well as speaking to any families about their child who has disabilities. 

About Sharon Aron Baron

Sharon Aron Baron Sharon Aron Baron is the Editor of Talk Media and writer for Coral Springs Talk. CST was created in 2012 to provide News, Views and Entertainment for the residents of Coral Springs, Parkland and the rest of South Florida.

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  • S R

    Clearly the ones ‘kvetching’about having a small group home for autistic kids have all well and healthy kids, can never begin to understand the untold amount of hell parents go through when having to ‘place’their kids-ANYwhere away from themselves and their own homes,even for a minute! Autistic kids are not drug-addled criminal psychopaths(though don’t get me wrong, I feel for,and am not ranting against others with varying drug/mental problems) that would be ‘threatening’to their cushy suburban lifestyles…go volunteer in a Special Ed/’Center’ school or like organization.What you MAY learn about these and other kids with’disabilities’could possibly rock your world.As for if I’d ‘have one in MY backyard of the home I own??? In a heartbeat :)!!!

    • yongo

      HOW about 6 or more how about the family that has worked two jobs made many sacrifices to own a home in a single-family neighborhood to raise their kids in safety only to find out that a group home will be located right next door. Something that was never disclosed when they made the purchase. Two senior citizens living peacefully in their home looking to just live out their lives in the home they lived in for forty years. Everyone feels for these unfortunate families and their children however when you have children you take on their responsibility and care for them you take the good and the bad their still your children. When you give these private businesses a right to upset a neighborhood you are taking the rights of people who live in that neighborhood away. A single family neighborhood is just that and that what people expect. If you really want to help visit the home of the family who needs help and volunteer your services. This would be a good thing and the children will not have to be taken out of their homes where they are very comfortable and safe, it will also limit putting added pressures on the children and their parents. God will bless you.

      • S R

        Totally understand your views, Yongo but must add that I’m either in or have been in all situations you mentioned.Had 4 children originally,1 now sadly deceased 2.5 yrs who WAS severely Autistic/Epileptic and though sadly it ALmost came to pass that he MIGHT have had to be ‘placed’,thank God and our family’s hard work and my husband who’s worked 2 jobs 7 days a wk for 20-+yrs,it didn’t happen.So,needless to say,I’ve had firsthand way to close and personal experience/joy/heartbreak in working in schools,hospitals,group homes,special day care etc.for decades. We are also people though not completely ‘senior’,just over 60 yrs that have worked very hard for our nice 3/2 house on a nice quiet street,only attaining that in last 10 yrs,so I completely appreciate your point there as well. The truth is,these places are badly needed since I think nearly no one wants to go back to horrible days where ‘less than perfect’kids/people are warehoused in high rise prison like institutions(I’ve experienced those also),and I personally would rather have one of these group homes right on MY street than generic ‘lousy neighbors'(fill in the blank on that one!)…All your points well taken,though 🙂

        • yongo

          Understand where your coming from.

  • yongo

    Politicians get you again. You and your wife or partner save for years working hard and making sacrifices to scrap together enough money to put a down payment on a house.in coral springs. You do your homework check out the neighborhoods and choose a nice house that you can purchase and raise a family or just retire. After a short time you are informed that a group home will be right next to you. You say that is impossible this is a single family neighborhood zoned single family and built that way. no no your wrong coral allows group homes in single family homes putting many unrelated occupants in the house next door to you. The realtor never disclosed this possibility to us. Its not like a gas station going up on an empty lot this is an established single family neighborhood. This is coral springs no one was informed of this not by the realtor or anyone else. Now what,your house has just dropped in value probably as much as your down payment or even greater oh if only the realtor had to by law disclose this to me in writing I would have not purchased the house maybe that’s why we were not told. Coral springs politicians are always looking out for you they will take away your park. Raise your taxes and fees significantly and spend spend spend promising the same improvements year after year and just keep raising salaries and perks for the so called staff. No tax payer money will be used sound familiar.

  • S R

    …Amen, ‘D’..What you said 🙂 !

  • Keurig Jones

    SB presented only one side of the concern. The pro government knows all side. SB actually knows nothing but is responsible for content.