Newport Academy Says Zoning Administrator Overstepped Her Bounds in Ruling



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6/25/2019

Newport Academy Says Zoning Administrator Overstepped Her Bounds in Ruling

By Vernon Miles


In its appeal to the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA), group home operator Newport Academy said county staff overreached in its determination against a planned facility in McLean.

There have been more than a few stories recently on the Newport Academy’s planned opening of a for-profit therapy program in a McLean neighborhood, but as Fairfax County Board Chairman Sharon Bulova pointed out, it’s an issue that could set precedent in Fairfax.

In May, Fairfax County Zoning Administrator Leslie Johnson issued a letter saying that because the Newport Academy’s three adjacent properties at  1620, 1622 and 1624 Davidson Road shared staff and resources, they were not individual properties eligible for by-right development but as a congregate living facility.

But in the appeal filed to the Board of Zoning Appeals, the Newport Academy laid out its argument that it had been the unfair victim of public backlash and a selective zoning ruling.

“The Newport Academy has been deprived of the right to operate each of the Davidson Properties… as a residential facility for up to eight individuals with mental illnesses as permitted and consistent with [Virginia code],” the company said in the appeal.

The appeal also lays out a timeline of events starting with Newport Academy purchasing one property at 1624 Davidson Road and another at 1318 Kurtz Road. In August, the company sent a series of questions to the Zoning Administrator regarding the prospect of opening multiple homes at Davidson Road, to which zoning answered that the group residential facility may occupy a dwelling unit without any proffered or development conditions and that there was no limitation on the number of group residential facilities.

After this, the appeal says Newport Academy invested millions of dollars on the purchases and renovations for the other properties. Now, the Newport Academy is saying Johnson’s ruling is inconsistent with Virginia law and other codes.

The appeal also alleges that the Newport Academy was the victim of a “sophisticated campaign to turn elected and appointed public officials against Newport Academy’s efforts to provide appropriate mental health services to adolescents in McLean” that included dozens of letters, emails and phone calls from local residents.

The Newport Academy reiterated that it is a group residential facility, defined in zoning ordinance as “a group home or other residential facility with one or more resident or nonresident staff persons, in which no more than eight mentally ill, intellectually disabled or developmentally disabled persons reside… or eight handicapped persons reside.”

Newport Academy alleges in the appeal that Johnson employed external factors without a statutory basis.

“The Zoning Administrator considered factors including common ownership, physical proximity, and programmatic elements of the proposed use at the Davidson Properties, factors not found in either the Virginia statue or the Zoning Ordinance,” the appeal said. “This ‘single facility’ analysis is foreclosed under [Virginia code], which unambiguously invests [the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services] (VDBHDS) as the sole authority to determine whether a home meets the requirements of being considered a ‘residential facility.'”

The Newport Academy argues repeatedly throughout the appeal that Johnson stepped on the VDBHDS’ role as the licensing agency.

The appeal also points to other group residential facilities in Fairfax, like the properties at 8333, 8337, and 8341 Lewinsville Road, which share a driveway and programming across the three facilities.

When, or if, the appeal will be heard by the BZA is still to be determined. The appeal was received on Friday, June 14, and must be scheduled within 90 days if accepted unless other arrangements are agreed to. Brian Worthy, a Fairfax County spokesman, said that county staff are currently going through the application before the county officially accepts it — a standard procedure for every application.

Source: https://www.tysonsreporter.com/2019/06/24/newport-academy-says-zoning-administrator-overstepped-her-bounds-in-ruling/?fbclid=IwAR1EQuA1dZ3weEZ_B_2Bb3Grrf4YWb7PnS4NcV1oFI4yS0cPS-RIauuUj4Y


Comments

Sarah All, if you're up for it, post comments in response to this most recent story from the Tyson's Reporter. Fairfax County is attempting to take a stance--our County agrees that what NA is doing, whether at Davidson Road or Kurtz, DOES NOT constitute a group home--patients cycling in and out of ANY facility on a monthly basis IS NOT what the Fair Housing and Americans with Disabilities Acts intend to protect.

Sarah This decision could set key precedent, so it's critical that we make it clear and communicate widely--in responses to the article, Letters to Editors, posts on FB and Nextdoor--especially to folks who are unfamiliar with the issue--this is not our community and neighbors discriminating against vulnerable populations--it's about KEEPING COMMERCIAL ACTIVITY OUT OF RESIDENTIAL ZONES.



Here is the official appeal filed by NA with the BZA on June 14th.


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Protect Fair Housing8 hours ago

As per this article, "The appeal also alleges that the Newport Academy was the victim of a 'sophisticated campaign to turn elected and appointed public officials against Newport Academy’s efforts to provide appropriate mental health services to adolescents in McLean' that included dozens of letters, emails and phone calls from local residents."

As a McLean resident and staunch advocate for ensuring civil, health, and human rights, I find the aforementioned assertion uncouth and offensive. I'd like to draw our attention to an article published last November in the Washington Post, here: https://www.washingtonpost.....



Gulnaz


Very twisted appeal paper as lawyers are skillful to do and yet poorly drafted.... I hope this issue gets escalated to the Circuit court and puts Monroe and et al. out of the residential neighborhoods once and forever, and further defines “group homes”and true intentions of FHA to carry out the spirit of the law.
We have to join our efforts throughout the United States including Monroe’s multiple Connecticut and California facilities. The game is on!



Meagan 

I called the board of zoning appeals today. Was told the appeal is still being processed and would likely be processed by the end of the week. They are aware that the community will want a voice. I was told that the cost of a copy of the appeal is 25 cents per page (but because it hasn't yet been processed they don't know the total cost) -- but it is long. I was also told that there would be a public hearing on the appeal with ample notice. I was told the appeal would not be held before the board breaks for the summer and that it would be heard in sept/oct at the earliest.




6/21/2019

All,

A few updates this week.  
  • Newport Academy has officially appealed the decision by the County to classified the three Davidson properties as a Congregate Living Facility (CLF). They are arguing, among other things, that Virginia Code 15.2-2291 prevents the County from doing so. You can read up on the statute at the link below if you're interested, but even more reason why we need the State to deny their license. https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title15.2/chapter22/section15.2-2291/
  • Newport Academy has officially switched their application to Kurtz Rd. They do not have the license yet, but the address now shows Kurtz Rd. instead of Davidson Rd.
  • We really need County wide support to have Fairfax County suggest legislative changes to the State. Please share the link with five friends in Fairfax County and have them submit letters to their elected officials. It takes about 1 minute to enter your name and address and it sends an email to the Fairfax County Supervisor, State Delegate and State Senator for your area. We need more people from across the County to use this web page (www.protectyourneighborhoods.com) to send letters. Digital advertising is currently running across the County, but we need to do our best to spread the word.
The link  to generate emails is www.protectyourneighborhoods.com.  Please forward to friends around Fairfax County.  We need other Supervisors besides Foust to be abreast of the issues.

Jason





"Am uploading a letter from NA to Leslie Johnson/Zoning that we became aware of yesterday. It is a long and complex legalese letter but it does not bode well. It includes a clear threat of filing a discrimination lawsuit against the county."




6/20/2019

Rehab Facility in McLean Fights Back Against Zoning Decision

By Catherine Douglas Moran


After a seeming defeat, the for-profit therapy program Newport Academy is fighting back against a zoning ruling that would keep it out of a McLean neighborhood.

The Newport Academy, a for-profit therapy program for teens with mental health or addiction problems, wanted to turn its three purchased homes (1620, 1622, and 1624 Davidson Road) into a treatment facility.

Newport Academy’s plans to open the McLean facility hinged on it being a by-right use, which wouldn’t require approval by the Board of Supervisors. Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust has previously said that he would oppose the development if it was brought to the county board for a vote.

In May, Fairfax County Zoning Administrator Leslie Johnson determined that facility at Davidson Road would not be permitted as a by-right use and would require approval from the Board of Supervisors.

On Friday (June 14), Newport Academy filed an appeal to that ruling, staff at the Board of Zoning Appeals told Tysons Reporter. Zoning policy stipulates that the case will be scheduled within 90 days of the appeal being accepted unless staff and the appellant agree to something outside of that timeframe.

Brian Worthy, a Fairfax County spokesman, said that county staff are currently going through the application before the county officially accepts it — a standard procedure for every application.

While the zoning official’s ruling seemed to be a win for neighbors opposing the controversial treatment facility, Newport Academy’s push to appeal the zoning determination signals a possibly longer fight ahead for both sides.

Currently, Newport Academy has three jobs listed for McLean: a part-time fully licensed adolescent therapist, an LPN licensed practical nurse and a housekeeper.

Newport Academy also has plans for another project at 1318 Kurtz Road — a standalone property that was not considered in Johnson’s review. What will happen to the Kurtz property remains unclear.



Source: https://www.tysonsreporter.com/2019/06/20/rehab-facility-in-mclean-fights-back-against-zoning-decision/?fbclid=IwAR2fFH6tsz3JOrLaUCLOcdWsPg0IMMuPlXRhpNw4W_xTqfdLJMM2angvM3k


"Busy day at the Kurtz facility"


"
Just to keep you up-to-date: today there were 11 cars neatly parked at 1318 Kurtz. I was told, yesterday late afternoon, by a member of Fairfax County Zoning office that Newport Academy had not been issued a license to operate. It cannot use this facility to train staff.
So, today I glimpsed a group of young women sitting at a table, perhaps a meeting?, then had lunch. I wonder if Newport Academy already using this house as a business training, meeting. Is it lawful?

Best to you all,
"

" If that’s not a commercial business, I ride flying Pegasus."

" Maybe Spot Hero had a deal today..... Seriously, this is clearly indicative of a medical treatment facility building up its staff at a location in a residential neighborhood."

" An business operation without a permit?
We reported this activity by phone (voice mail) yesterday so that a zoning officer could come to investigate."



5/31/2019

$60,000 a month. That's what it costs for your teenager to stay in a Newport Academy treatment center. 

The company is said to have plans to buy up to six homes in McLean.


Residents call it a "corporate takeover" of their neighborhood. They say they're not "group homes" but high-end treatment centers taking advantage of the opioid epidemic and lax zoning laws.





5/31/2019

McLean residents fight single-home drug rehab centers

Newport has backed off plans for three-house facility, and looks to open as many as six single 'group homes' in McLean.

Author: Peggy Fox

MCLEAN, Va. — A youth drug rehab company is backing off setting up a three-house facility in McLean. But Newport Academy is moving forward with plans to open as many as six single "group homes" in the McLean area.

The backlash from the McLean community, and community feedback, persuaded Newport Academy to "modify it's expansion plans by ceasing planned openings on Davidson Road," according to a statement sent by Marc Lampkin, a resident who helped negotiate a solution to the Davidson Road situation. 

Newport purchased three homes on Davidson Road near McLean high school. Recently, the Fairfax County Zoning Administrator determined they weren't federally-protected group homes, which need no zoning changes, but congregate living facilities that do require county approval.

RELATED: Residents surprised, upset after teen drug rehab center buys three McLean homes



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The company is continuing with it's plans to open other single-home facilities, including one on Kurtz Road right behind Franklin Sherman Elementary School.

 A group home in Virginia can hold up to eight residents. There are signs along Kurtz Road opposing it.




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"We understand the need to group homes," Sarah Nearing, a nearby resident said. "These are not group homes. They're congregate living facilities. Where there are going to be many, many teenagers circling in and out over several-week periods. So they're only going to be there for several weeks, and that is not a group home ... It's no longer a single-family home. It's a facility serving patients who are cycling in and out." 

"I view it as a treatment facility," Stephanie Hein, who lives next door to the Kurtz home, said. "Which is not a bad thing, that's fine, that's what it is."

Along with the eight residents, according to Jamison Monroe, Newport's CEO, at least nine staff members will be coming and going on the already busy street.

Hein said the facility needs to be regulated.

"We're not asking the county to do anything but label this as a congregate living facility as opposed to a group home because of the transient level of it and because of the level of the scale of operations that's happening," Hein said. Because up to 70 kids can come through one single home in a year."



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RELATED: Anger erupts in McLean over youth treatment center

Hein said traffic, staffing, and any potential problems could be addressed and controlled with county regulation. 

"If they call it a group home, they have by right ability to pop up anywhere and as many as they want to," Hein said.

WUSA9 asked Newport Academy how much it cost to stay in its facilities. 

The Newport employee said, "Your insurance company will cover it."  

The employee said the cost is $2000 per day. That's $60,000 per month for one person. Eight residents would add up to $480,000 per month at one home.



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"This is a for-profit drug rehab industry that has exploded, particularly since the ACA, exploiting the ACA [Affordable Care Act] and taking advantage of vulnerable populations and the opioid epidemic," Nearing said.

County leaders and neighbors have been in communication with members of the Carlyle Group investment firm who are on the board of Newport. 

Here's a statement Marc Lampkin attributed to Newport: 



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Newport Academy is the nation’s leading provider of mental health residential and outpatient treatment for teens and young adults. As such, we have received direct requests from parents, clinicians, insurance companies and other referral sources to bring our well-recognized adolescent mental health treatment program to the Northern Virginia market. To that end, we acquired multiple properties to extend our reach more formally into the McLean community. Although these group homes are fully legal and protected under the Fair Housing Act, as well as other applicable federal, Virginia and Fairfax County laws, Newport Academy has listened to the community’s feedback and has opted to modify its expansion plans by ceasing planned openings on Davidson Road.

Our commitment to service the Northern Virginia market remains intact. We look forward to opening these much-needed services in McLean in the near future and hope to keep the lines of communication open with the community and its elected officials as we seek to contribute in a positive way towards addressing the mental health crisis in the greater DC area.


RELATED: McLean residents opposed to youth rehab center win first step to stop it






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5/31/2019

Youth drug and psychiatric company receives backlash


ALL: Peggy Fox interviewed Stephanie and Sarah this afternoon in the Kurtz neighborhood (thanks for being available and willing to get on camera!) They were both awesome and said exactly what needed saying - that even one Newport is too big to be operating in a neighborhood without proper oversight (or perhaps at all) and that what’s happening on Kurtz is a symptom of a larger problem. Keep you eyes out for a story tonight (hopefully) on WUSA9.

Peggy really seems to “get” it and it feels like she’ll report this fairly. She saw us all at the debate last night and I’m sure that also helped her to come around - so thank you to the many of you who were able to come out last night (we were again almost a quarter of the audience)!!!



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Statement from Newport Academy: 
"Newport Academy is the nation’s leading provider of mental health residential and outpatient treatment for teens and young adults. As such, we have received direct requests from parents, clinicians, insurance companies and other referral sources to bring our well-recognized adolescent mental health treatment program to the Northern Virginia market. To that end, we acquired multiple properties to extend our reach more formally into the McLean community. Although these group homes are fully legal and protected under the Fair Housing Act, as well as other applicable federal, Virginia and Fairfax County laws, Newport Academy has listened to the community’s feedback and has opted to modify its expansion plans by ceasing planned openings on Davidson Road.

Our commitment to service the Northern Virginia market remains intact. We look forward to opening these much-needed services in McLean in the near future and hope to keep the lines of communication open with the community and its elected officials as we seek to contribute in a positive way towards addressing the mental health crisis in the greater DC area."








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