The Warrior Salute Home would house fourteen veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and brain injuries who are looking for help transitioning back into the community.
At its meeting Thursday, the Penfield Zoning Board of Appeals elected to table a vote on CDS Monarch's application to operate a Warrior Salute Home on Embury Road. The decision was a shock to the program sponsors. "For more than 34 years CDS Monarch, our people with developement disabilities, have had to fight for the right to live in their community, but I never thought our veterans would have the same fight today," said CDS Monarch President and CEO Sankar Sewnauth.
A blend of area residents and representatives from the Rochester Christian School, which is located across the street, raised safety concerns at the meeting. "It just smacks of not in my backyard," said Retired Major General Robert Mixon, Jr. "We had comments like, I really love veterans and what you're doing with Warrior Salute, but I'd rather you did it somewhere else."
School Principal Deborah Abbey addressed the Zoning Board. She said Friday the school appreciates veterans and supports Warrior Salute, but has a responsibility to make sure the transitioning veterans don't present any threat to its students.
Penfield Town Supervisor Tony LaFountain said tabling the vote until May allows the Board time for all viewpoints to be considered. "The Board wants to do their due dilligence to make sure that they're checking out everything and following up appropriately," he said.
Mixon said he would stake his reputation on Warrior Salute, which is two years old. He said all of the veterans are thoroughly screened before entering the program and they pose no danger to anyone. "We have a population of veterans in our program who are dedicated men and women who have served their nation with honor and who want to regain their lives, they just need a little help transitioning," he said.
Sewnauth said opposition to the Warrior Salute Home reflects on the entire community. "This defines us as neighbors, as fellow human beings looking out for each other," he said.
The Zoning Board of Appeals will reconsider the CDS Monarch application at its next meeting on May 17.