The City of Lackawanna is appealing a judge's decision that would allow Baker Victory Services to move forward with plans for a new $15 million residential treatment facility on Martin Road.
City Attorney Norman A. Le-Blanc Jr. filed a notice of appeal to the Appellate Division after State Supreme Court Justice Timothy J. Walker's ruling in favor of Baker Victory Services, the nonprofit agency that operates the existing facility.
Walker ruled in July that the city's Zoning Board of Appeals had erred in deciding that the planned new facility was not compatible with a mixed residential zoning district. Walker's decision noted the Zoning Board of Appeals' determination was "irrational, unreasonable and inconsistent with the governing codes."
LeBlanc said this week that he was continuing to analyze the case and was requesting additional information from representatives of Baker Victory Services, which has operated the program for young people with psychiatric and behavioral problems since 1983.
The new facility was first proposed in 2009, but residents near the sprawling Martin Road campus have said that the agency doesn't do enough to control unruly teenagers roaming the neighborhood. And some city leaders have argued that the program is a drain on city resources because police and firefighters are regularly called to the facility.
Baker Victory Services representatives have maintained that the new 43,000-square-foot facility will be safer and more secure and lead to fewer emergency calls.
The center would be equipped with an infrared security system and modern amenities for its male and female residents, who are between the ages of 12 and 21.
"As far as an appeal, it is our hope that the city will reconsider and allow the proposed Residential Treatment Facility to proceed without further delay," Jeffrey D. Palumbo of Damon Morey, the firm representing Baker Victory Services, said in an email response to questions. "It will be a magnificent facility that will be a great benefit to those requiring the specialized therapeutic treatment that the facility affords."
Even if Baker Victory Services wins the appeal, it will still need to receive approval for its project from the city's Planning and Development Board.