Horizon Behavioral Health is preparing to open a new home for Central Virginia Training Center residents to move into.
A new home at 999 Lakeview Drive in Lynchburg is in its final stages of construction as an Intermediate Care Facility, or ICF, which provides around-the-clock services to a small group of people with special needs.
CVTC is slated to close next year and its remaining residents with intellectual and physical disabilities are moving to community-based settings as per a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice. As of late June 47 residents still were living at the Madison Heights facility. One residential option that qualifies as a community-based setting is an ICF home, which usually provides care for anywhere from four to 12 residents.
Horizon currently has eight ICFs in and around Lynchburg, and the one on Lakeview Drive will be the ninth, allowing for four residents. Damien Cabezas, Horizon’s CEO, has said it intends to help find homes for CVTC residents.
Some of the ICF’s new neighbors don’t consider it to truly be a “home.”
Lakeview Drive resident Linda Coley spoke before Horizon’s board June 27 about the construction process so far and passed out a letter summarizing her concerns to board members.
Horizon bought the property in June 2017 and demolished the standing house last fall, according to city land records. Contractors built a new house closer to the road than where the demolished one sat, Coley said.
Coley, who lives next door to the ICF property, said she and her neighbors first thought the existing house would be renovated and thought parking spaces would be in a different area of the property than where they ended up.
She said she “cherishes” the residents that will live on the property and neighbors have no issue with the home itself, but added the newly built ICF looks like an “industrial” and “commercial” building that sticks out.
“I think this is awful — it has torn our neighborhood up,” she told the board.
Twenty-three Lakeview homeowners signed a petition asking Horizon to move a large utility box from out of the ICF’s front yard. Coley wrote in a letter to Horizon’s board members that issues she and other homeowners raised “could have been avoided with better co-operation from HBH and involvement with the neighborhood.”
Horizon staff and board members didn’t respond to her presentation at the June 27 meeting.
Cabezas said he’s heard Coley’s concerns “loud and clear” and, after a closed session June 27 involving the lease or acquisition of real estate, said Horizon intends to respond to the homeowners in writing. Horizon will also respond by installing lighting on the side of the ICF opposite to Coley’s home, where parking for the facility will be.
“We always welcome feedback from the community and neighborhood,” he said. “… What I’m committed to is that we will be more active — they have a neighborhood committee and we’re going to be very active in listening to their concerns.”
“… We have always been good neighbors in all of the neighborhoods we’ve been in and we’re hopeful that that will be the end result here,” he said.
Cabezas said Horizon is still in negotiations for up to five of the buildings on CVTC’s campus in Madison Heights that are in good condition. One, he envisions as a 12-person ICF that could “also serve as a resource to keeping some of those very vulnerable individuals…in a location that they’re familiar with.” The others would provide ambulatory services, intensive outpatient services and other programming, he said.
Horizon still is considering the costs of operating those buildings, Cabezas said. If any plans were to change, he said Horizon would prioritize the 12-person ICF. The Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, which administers CVTC, now is reviewing Horizon’s proposal.
A ribbon cutting to open the Lakeview Drive home is scheduled for July 30. The first resident will move in the following day, Cabezas said.
Rachel Mahoney writes for The News & Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5554.