Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Agency for troubled boys center appeals decision: The Columns III

Capital Academy's attempts to strongarm Delanco Township have taken the next step. Having failed to gain approval from the Joint Land Use Board (see my earlier posting), they have filed an appeal in Superior Court. They are continuing their arrogant argument that the township zoning laws and previous variances don't apply to them:

Paul Josephson, a former state attorney who represents the Trenton-based agency, said yesterday afternoon the appeal centers on the belief that the municipal board had no jurisdiction to hear the application.
He said the company is a state contractor for the Department of Human Services and immune to local zoning laws, and that the academy’s program is a permitted use.

Since the evidence presented at the Board hearing pretty effectively negates this argument, they've added on another twist -- this is now a discrimination case!
“"We would all prefer to have society’s ills addressed somewhere other than where we and our children live, but it is illegal to discriminate against these boys based on their age and disabilities,"” Josephson said. "“Capital is committed to vindicating their right to live at The Columns.”"
No mention of disabilities was made in Capital Academy's presentation to the Board. As documented in my previous post, they described these boys as "troubled" and "abused, neglected, and abandoned." The are wards of the state, and have been ordered into treatment by the state because they have exhibited their "trouble" through their actions. It's pretty creative to claim that this is a protected disability, and to assert an individual right to live in the Columns.
The question at hand is whether this particular business, a group home (or residential "child" care facility), has the right to operate in a residential district. Based on the existing zoning laws and evidence presented to the Board, I say NO.