The nonprofit HEADstrong Foundation—assisted by pro bono attorneys from Ballard Spahr and McCausland, Keen & Buckman—can establish a home for cancer patients and their caregivers, despite objections from some neighbors in this suburban Philadelphia community, a judge ruled yesterday.
Judge Spiros E. Angelos denied an appeal challenging the Swarthmore Borough Council's approval of HEADstrong's plans for Nick's House, a residence that would house up to seven cancer patients and their caregivers while patients are being treated at area hospitals. The appeal was filed earlier this year in the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County by eight couples and two individuals who live near the property at 200 S. Chester Road.
HEADstrong was represented pro bono by a Ballard Spahr team led by Matthew N. McClure, head of the firm's Zoning and Land Use Group, along with a team from McCausland, Keen & Buckman led by Christine A. Reuther.
"On behalf of HEADstrong Foundation, we are pleased with Judge Angelos's affirmance of the Borough Council's well-reasoned decision in the foundation's favor," Mr. McClure said. "HEADstrong will be able to pursue its mission of helping people who are sick, hurting, and away from home. The evidence showed the HEADstrong home will not have a material adverse effect on the community, and that the Council acted properly in approving that use for the property."
HEADstrong Foundation is headed by Cheryl Colleluori, whose son Nick, a college lacrosse player at Hofstra University, died at age 21 in 2007 after a two-year battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In addition to dealing with Nick's illness, Ms. Colleluori and her family faced the stress of traveling to receive medical care and extended stays away from home that were costly and uncomfortable. She discovered that some patients' families resorted to sleeping in their cars because they couldn't afford lodging near where their loved one was receiving treatment.
HEADstrong Foundation has helped numerous families, including patients and families who stayed at the original Nick's House, a two-bedroom apartment above HEADstrong's headquarters on a residential street nearby. Need quickly outpaced capacity at the apartment, and Ms. Colleluori and HEADstrong spent several years raising funds and looking for a suitable location for a larger facility. Last year, they identified the Swarthmore property as a desirable building and location. To meet a zoning requirement, HEADstrong requested a fair housing accommodation, which the Borough's Accommodation Request Review Board approved in September 2016. Objectors appealed that decision to the Council, which unanimously approved the accommodation in December 2016. The neighbors then filed the court appeal.
"We are thrilled by today's court ruling and are anxious to move forward with the project, because there are people who are suffering and need help," Ms. Colleluori said. "We could not have gotten to where we are without the assistance of Ballard Spahr and McCausland, Keen & Buckman."
In addition to Mr. McClure and Ms. Reuther, the pro bono team that worked on HEADstrong's behalf included Ballard Spahr attorneys Dan Liang, Michael W. Skojec, Raymond A. Quaglia, Michael P. Cianfichi, and Nathan Farris, along with McCausland, Keen & Buckman attorneys Garth G. Hoyt and Benjamin R. Picker.
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