MYSTERY OF STONEHENGE DEEPENS … 30-YEAR LEASE … WHEN GROUP HOMES INVADE RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOODS, WHAT ARE THE SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC COSTS?
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY, MARCH 3, 2014) — The mystery of Stonehenge deepens. Following up on our exclusive on the group home moving into 71 Stonehedge Road in Pittsfield, the questions must be asked:
1. Why there, of all places?
2. Why was it done so quietly? This effort has been in the works since at least 2012. Why did no one in the city know about it?
3. Is the permitting process completed? If not, might this give Stonehenge residents and avenue for opposition? If completed, were the forms filled out correctly? That might be worth checking.
4. Why did the sale from the previous owners to the present ones have a quitclaim deed? Warranty deeds are the norm. Quitclaim for this instance seems odd.
5. Is it just a coincidence that the previous owners bought 71 Stonehenge from Angelo Stracuzzi, of all people? Is it just a coincidence that Stracuzzi sold to the previous owners for the exact same price, to the penny, as they sold to CIL? Is it just a coincidence that not long after the sale by Stracuzzi to the previous owners, according to CIL board minutes, the company resolved to move in a group home there? And is it just a coincidence that of all locations in the entire city, 71 Stonehenge should fill the bill?
6. Why was the mortgage from TD Bank well more than $300,000 above the selling cost of $350,000? Why the unusual figure of $664,902? Why not $650,000 even?
7. Why take a home valued at more than $371,000 off the tax roles?
8. How much assessed value will the other 15 homes on the street lose, if any?
9. To calculate the true cost, multiply the figures in 7. and 8. above by 30. Why 30? THE PLANET has learned that Berkshire Family and Individual Resources has leased 71 Stonehenge from the Corporation for Independent Living (CIL) for 30 years, from Jan. 15, 2014 to Jan. 15, 2044.
These and many other questions are flying about.
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Over the weekend, THE PLANET heard from a reliable source in contact with residents on the street that they have met with a lawyer, contacted various reps both state and local, and have had organizational discussions with the intent of trying to fight the development. Is the process is too far gone for that to work? Consensus of qualified opinion seems to suggest that it has, although that is far from certain.
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How many group homes currently call Pittsfield home? The answer appears to be 45. The home on Stonehenge would make 46. What is the total population of residents of these homes? How do they break down (pun intended or not intended, as you wish) in terms of “disability” (that is, how many sex offenders, drug addicts, mentally retarded, mentally ill, and the like)? How many dollars over how many years has this epidemic cost the city after you add up the properties removed from the tax rolls plus the loss of value? [ED NOTE: THE PLANET uses the word "retarded" because it accurately describes a condition medically measured relative to the "non-retarded" population. We do not accept the politically correct straightjacket placed upon that word].
In addition to that population, what number of Pittsfield residents fit into some special category of “need” such that taxpayers have to take up the burden of supporting them in part or in full? This number would include anyone with addiction problems, Sec. 8 residents, welfare recipients, single teens girls who make a living from getting pregnant, and the like.
It doesn’t take a math genius to realize that with the overall population dropping while this special category of “needs” recipients grows, Pittsfield has a ticking time bomb on its hands demographically, politically, socially, and economically. In the end, all you will need to know if you are one of the shrinking number of law-abiding, independent, working, taxpaying residents is that you will end up footing the bill — this while city officials and administrators keep rewarding themselves with pay hikes, especially the school department, and continuing to grow the size and cost of government.
THE PLANET has received two relevant e-mails regarding the situation on Stonehenge, which we share as Letters to the Editor. Aside from minor editing, the only thing we have changed are the names, withheld upon request.
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‘Nine Months of Abuse’
[NOTE: The links in this story are active and provide backup information on the claims for those readers who wish to learn more.]
TO THE PLANET:
CIL Realty has political power, power greater than any local town or zoning board. They have the power of the state behind them. In fact, they have the power of several states, in that they are authorized to do business in MA, CT, and apparently IL.CIL was instrumental in bringing about legislation to deinstitutionalize the state mental hospitals in MA. Rather conveniently, their business model profits by setting up group homes for mental patients, and they’ve had the state write laws to bypass any local zoning which might otherwise stop them including ignoring wetland or septic field laws. I could find no story of a town which has been able to stop them.For example, in East Hartford CT, CIL purchased a home. The town temporarily stopped them initially because of zoning violations. CIL went to court where CIL won (nice when you can have the state write laws that exempt the business from following the rules). Following their business practice, CIL leased this home to a company called Options Unlimited.I found articles showing Options Unlimited has mismanaged these group homes and abused the residents. In one case in East Hartford (don’t know if it was the same group home), an employee was videotaped whipping one of the residents with a belt. The worker was arrested on assault charges and the state opened a further investigation of the company. This press release calling for an investigation of Options Unlimited from Sen. LeBeau in CT indicates eight Options Unlimited employees were fired over a period of nine months for abuse of patients.CIL is a dangerous collaboration of a private company funded by the state, the dictionary definition of fascism. The company shields itself by ostensibly providing housing for the disadvantaged and mentally challenged. However when you look at the actuals, you have what amounts to a real-estate developer that can go anywhere without approval of the local town, that does not have to follow laws or review processes that normal developers are subject to, is funded by the state and Feds, and who profits from leases to businesses like Options Unlimited.I feel bad for the neighbors on Stonehenge who’ve had this monstrosity dropped on them. Their property value can only be negatively impacted by this development.The state closed all the mental hospitals supposedly because of abuse and poor treatment of patients. Now the hospitals are closed, the patients are disbursed in the communities, but the abuse remains. Seems like only the non-profit CIL Realty has profited. — Hartford Harry
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THE PLANET thanks HH for his letter. The hot links are especially informative. As always, THE PLANET welcomes and encourages letters on this and any relevant topic. Opposing points of view are welcome.
Here’s another letter in a similar vein.
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‘An Odd Choice’
Looking up info on CIL (Corporation for Independent Living), I found they are a non-profit (but not without profit) operation based in CT, with a state taxpayer funded bankroll of some $12M and a revolving bank line of credit of apparently $40M with TD Bank. CIL’s purpose is supposedly the establishment of group homes for the mentally disabled.
CIL’s own mortgage of $664K+ for 71 Stonehenge through TD Bank was surprising (I used “CIL Realty” in the Land Record search criteria to find it). The mortgage appears to be secured by this $40M in revolving credit and the property. Money from the bank is to pay for the property plus renovation. When I last drove the house a few weeks ago, I saw 3 construction-type trucks and a dumpster parked at 71 Stonehenge.
Of all the places to pick for a group home for the mentally disabled, 71 Stonehenge seems to be an odd choice. Stonehenge is one of the nicer residential streets in Pittsfield. What’s next, a methadone clinic on Crofut St?
Out of all the 3 B/R ranch houses in all the towns in Massachusetts that CIL might have chosen for one of their group homes, why 71 Stonehenge? Who pointed them toward this house? One wonders if L’affaire Stracuzzi has deeper roots. Thank you. — A.W.
“Everybody’s got a thing that someone don’t know how to handle.” — Stevie Wonder, “Don’t You Worry ’bout a Thing,” from the “Innervision” album, 1974.
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.