A non-profit group home requested and received approval for a few variances and waivers at the Planning Board's Minor Site Plan and Subdivision Committee meeting last Monday night.
The proposed Special Homes of New Jersey, Inc. will house four residents with developmental disabilities at the home at 1259 Littleton Road.
The two men and two women who will live there are in their 40s, 50s and 60s and have been living in the North Jersey Developmental Center most of their lives, said SHNJ Executive Director Terry McKeon.
McKeon has “chosen (them) from North Jersey Development” and the four people are the maximum allowed in a community group home under their contract.
The contract SHNJ has is with the Dept. of Human Services and SHNJ is not allowed to take in people not referred to by Division of Developmental Disabilities.
Families will be able to come and visit.
“We look to hire from the community,” said McKeon. There will be 24-hour supervision with three people on staff at all times.
“The four people … will be going to a day program M-F during the day.” Staff will drop them off and pick them up “and they will be enjoying activities in the community,” such as movies and restaurants,” said McKeon.
There will be 12 -14 staff all together, part-time and full-time, for three shifts every day. They will do items such as laundry, house cleaning, menu planning etc … They have three staffers for the four residents because they “have to be able to evacuate within three minutes” in case of a fire or emergency.
Other people who will come regularly to the property are a facilities manager and a quality insurance person.
Through the contract with New Jersey, they’re given funding for a part-time maintenance person, who will do items such as repairs, landscaping, etc … and will come at least once a month. The maintenance person will come more often depending on the need.
“If the staff requests repairs/maintenance, they go and look at it and I get a proposal to approve,” said McKeon.
Parsippany Board Planner Ed Snieckus asked if there are any issues with spot elevations and Board Engineer Gordon Meth said they didn’t need spot elevations but the board needs to know if the slope of the ramps is compliant to ADA standards.
George Sincox, the planner and architect for the proposed group home, said “the ramps represent the sole reason why we’re here tonight … The purpose for them is because of the special needs community we have in here. A number of them are not ambulatory and require egress and ingress with wheelchairs … The State of New Jersey requires that we have two remote ramps” for fire safety.
Sincox explained that ramps will be ADA compliant and will have a railing. There will also be a full sprinkler system in the house.
It’s a private residence so not anyone can come and go as they please for security reasons. There will be no buses or jitneys. They have purchased a small van to transport the wheelchairs.
The parking lot can handle seven cars comfortably, but usually there will only be four vehicles: three staffers and the van. They said they don’t see any issues with parking because the lot is not public. Sincox said they don’t plan to paint parking lines to “maintain the character of a residential neighborhood.”
McKeon said he didn’t anticipate families to visit on a regular basis and occasionally, perhaps once every three months, they will have a full staff meeting to talk about planning.
The exiting shrubbery in front of the house will be removed
to put in the ramp up to the home. They will replace the shrubbery on the other
side once the ramp is installed.
Snieckus also asked for shielding for exterior lights.
They will set up a Neighborhood Advisory Committee.
“We invite neighbors to come in once a month to get to know our residents and staff, to voice any concerns,” said McKeon. “This way we can keep communication going … A lot of the times those committees rarely meet because we’ve been very good neighbors.”
For those who can’t make it to these community meetings, there are other forms of communication such as email or phone.