Some residents in Sumner County are upset over plans for a group home in their neighborhood, and things have become so heated school leaders in Bethpage have gotten involved.
Much of the concern stems from the shooting last month at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT.
Sherry Minor's front door is within earshot of North Sumner Elementary School, so she said she was alarmed when she learned a group home for men might open less than a half-mile from the school.
"It was very scary to find out this was happening and nobody knew about it. And had nobody found out about it, I feel like it would have been passed. It would have been zoned without the public knowing it," Minor said.
To spread the word, Minor and her daughter taped public notices to mailboxes in the neighborhood and also brought it to the principal of the nearby school.
Recently, the principal of North Sumner Elementary sent home a letter to parents, stating Sumner County Schools and North Sumner are opposed to the plans by a nonprofit to turn an empty house into a group home.
"A terrible massacre up in the northeast that's still on the minds of people, and we want our schools protected," said David Brown, member of the Sumner County School Board.
Joe Moore, president of Biblical Concepts, which runs the group homes, said work has already begun on the group home.
"We were aware there was a school there, but it's not a concern to us. It's never been a concern for anybody. It's only after we have a major tragedy on a national level that it begins to be a barrier for some people," Brown said.
Brown said it is not a halfway house; rather it's a place for men with mental and physical disabilities to learn skills of independence.
He adds the residents often hold jobs and go to school while living in such a home, and will have 24-hour supervision.
"There's no incentive for us to bring somebody in who's going to be dangerous to other people or the staff that I am charged with protecting. Or the neighbors that we have to live by day after day," Brown said.
Moore said Biblical Concepts' group homes are licensed by the state. The Sumner County Zoning Board is expected to vote on the request Thursday.
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