East Forest Park residents protest psychiatric unit - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

East Forest Park residents protest psychiatric unit

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Residents in an East Forest Park neighborhood are protesting plans for a psychiatric unit to be installed right next door to them. 

Neighbors said the residential home on 64 Treetop Avenue was purchased by Mental Health Associates with the intention to house four women who may be abused or have psychiatric issues. 

Paul Edwards, who lives next to the home, said the group started renovating the home without proper permits several weeks ago. Neighbors are now concerned for their safety. 

"Mental Health associates hasn't told us anything they plan on doing," said Edwards. 

Residents gathered more than 80 signatures of residents that are against installing the facility. Edwards said the neighborhood is zoned for residential purposes only and should not be used for anything other than a family home. But under the Dover Amendment, religious and educational homes can be installed in residential areas without discrimination. 

Springfield city council member Bud Williams said property values will go down in the neighborhood if the facility is installed. 

"Would you want this next to you? No. My point being, they need to review this and move somewhere else," said Williams. 

The Springfield city building department tells CBS 3 that the contractor repairing the building did not initially have a permit. A stop work order was issued to the contractor, and the contractor then made the proper application for a building permit. The city plans to approve this and has no issue. The state will issue a group home license and then the building department will issue an occupancy permit for the four women to occupy the house.

Mental Health Associates could not be reached for comment. 

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