Neighbors, provider locked in legal battle over nursing home for inmates

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Editor's Note: This story has been updated with a statement from 60 West.

A nursing home for paroled inmates that recently received approval for federal funding is now locked in a legal battle with its neighbors, who argue the facility is hurting their property values and putting their families at risk.

The town of Rocky Hill, CT, argued in court last week that 60 West, which opened in 2013, has resulted in a decline in property values for the homes surrounding it. The facility, which can house up to 95 residents, is currently home to 13 paroled inmates, the Hartford Courant reported.

In addition to property values, the owner of a local appraisal company testified in court that the facility has changed from “a quiet normal nursing home ... to a place with sex offenders, criminals and the smell of marijuana wafting over.”  

The median home value of a house in the area is $236,900, and values are expected to increase by 2% over the next year, according to Zillow.

Neighbors also reported that they installed alarm systems and have become more restrictive of their children's' outdoor activities due to the facility's inhabitants. Rocky Hill also claims the facility violates local zoning codes because its residents are not traditional long-term care patients.

Representatives for 60 West told McKnight's Long-Term Care News in a statement that they were "pleased" to share their side of the story with the judge, and that the plaintiffs' claims "are based entirely on fear, ignorance, innuendo, and discrimination against  disabled individuals."

"Rather than learning the facts, the plaintiffs refused to even set foot inside our nursing home to observe the actual operations," the statement reads. "The undisputed testimony at trial was that 60 West is a high-quality facility that cares for various types of individuals who are already being served in other nursing homes. None of our residents are 'inmates,' nor are they treated as inmates."

60 West's representatives also responded that the neighbors' fears about their property values were "simply speculating about the facts."

"This testimony focused on alleged decreases in property value when an individual on the state's mandated sex offender registry lives in a neighborhood in general, regardless of whether the individual resides in a house, an apartment, or a nursing home," the representatives said. "The controversy over the registry is a much broader public debate and is not specific to our property."

Attorneys representing both sides will now file briefs in the suit, which is expected to be heard by a judge in November. From there, the court will have 120 days to decide whether the facility can continue to operate.