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Plans for Historic AA Site Move Forward

Stepping Stones faces still more regulatory hurdles and local opposition.

New parking and other changes at the onetime home of Alcoholics Anonymous founder Bill Wilson progressed under a conditional green light from Bedford’s town board earlier this week.

In return for a formal town board declaration that the development plans do not pose an environmental threat, Stepping Stones Foundation, the philanthropy now maintaining Wilson’s longtime Katonah residence at 62 Oak Road, agreed Tuesday to a series of “protocols.”

The guidelines set out such things as hours of operation, number of permitted visitors and events, and even the length of buses negotiating the compact neighborhood’s narrow roads. Some residents living nearby have complained about traffic, parking and crowds at the site.

Stepping Stones’ modest victory followed a rare joint work session of the elected town board and volunteer planning board, which enforces compliance with Bedford’s land-use code. The town board asked for planning input after the foundation proposed in 2011 to rework the estate’s lone entrance and exit, and to build and screen off a parking area with spaces for 14 cars.

The plans face further regulatory hurdles at the zoning, planning and—in a return appearance—town boards. Stepping Stones must still seek a variance from the zoning board of appeals, site-plan approval from the planning board and a special-use permit from the town board. Public hearings will accompany each of those required stops.

In Tuesday’s procedural step, the town board acted as lead agency in assessing any environmental impact caused by the Stepping Stones proposal. Finding the plan would have none—a “negative declaration”—the board then decided not to require a formal environmental impact statement.

William Griffith Wilson, who founded the 12-step recovery program Alcoholics Anonymous, lived for 30 years in the Oak Road Colonial Revival. Before he died in 1971, Bill W. wrote there, setting down much of the creed subscribed to today by recovering alcoholics around the world. For countless numbers of them, touched by Wilson's words, Stepping Stones remains a shrine, beckoning them like pilgrims.

But unhappy neighbors insist that over the years, especially since Lois Wilson's 1988 death, the home has also brought an ever-increasing quota of noise, traffic and crowds to the quiet, close-knit community.

On Tuesday, Oak Road resident Diane Briganti, a frequent and outspoken Stepping Stones critic, challenged the foundation's trafffic and crowd figures, as well as its legal right to operate as a nonprofit museum.

"This is not what this neighborhood deserves," she said.

Jim Moogan of Kent, president of the Stepping Stones Foundation board, told Bedford officials, “We have no intention of increasing activity there at all.”

He said Stepping Stones, which last year was designated a National Historic Landmark, stands as an indelible piece of Americana.

“We think it will [still] be an important site 200 years from now,” he said.

Mitch Horn February 02, 2013 at 01:45 PM
Monica - a Fake name - is a bitter troll who trolls all the Patch Comments section across the country, looking for anything to do with AA and posts the same anti AA drivel, we've seen it for years now, and just as you have the right to post anything your small, bitter mind can come up with, I too have the right to expose your campaign for what it is, an angry, hateful attempt to disparage an organization that has saved Millions of lives worldwide, so that maybe, just maybe someone in the public eye will reference your rants, and you might get your 15 minutes..... keep spitting in the wind, and your gonna get wet.
Monica February 04, 2013 at 07:34 AM
AA has hurt more then it helped. AA is on its way out. SMART RECOVERY is growing so fast it will be bigger then AA in 10 years. They have trained facilitation, they have a no sexual Harassment policy, they have no sponsors...so no power tripping, no Sponsors laying trips on new pp. ANd after two years one can move on a live your life, no one is expected to attend your stupid meetings ad infititum...Im not alone in my opinion. Some 60,000 people who listen to my blog talk radio show called Safe Recovery also agree with me and fellow bloggers. The world is not flat. 1936 wacko cult religion is not an answer to alcohol overuse. Bill W crapola is way ...lets just say..the youth of today and educated folk are not buying its made up pop psych BS ala psuedo- religion in sheeps clothing. The internet is here. So Like the Catholic Church and The boy Scouts...The cat is out of the bag and its not getting back in :)
Monica February 04, 2013 at 07:36 AM
Mitch Horn said " keep spitting in the wind, and your gonna get wet." You are just like the steppers....is this a threat?
Laura Tompkins February 04, 2013 at 08:24 AM
Monica, PART ONE: AA will soon enough be the dangerous fringe cult it is destined to become. AA is not safe for anyone, especially young women, with the 13th stepping and the predators mandate by the courts. AA recruits dangerous felons and does nothing to inform members they are sharing their personal information with rapists and murderers. Also, if you must live your life labeling yourself 'powerless' and 'diseased' with nothing but character defects and personality shortcomings ... You are not safe. The success rate for AA is, at best 5% and as you probably know, that is merely the rate of spontaneous remission. These crazy steppers attack because deep down they know that you are right and they have no way of disputing your facts ... so they resort to ad hominem attacks. Its quite sad really but also very revealing of their brainwashing. Their minds have been branded with the idea that there best thinking got them there. They have been brainwashed to think that if their miraculous Programme does not work, it is not the programmes fault, for the Programme is perfect ... No it is those 'unfortunates' fault. Hogwash. AA is a dangerous cult plagiarized by a con man who is the guru of all gurus.
Laura Tompkins February 04, 2013 at 08:25 AM
PART TWO: Nowhere in the 12 steps does it say that you should quit drinking, or help anyone else to quit drinking, either. Nowhere do the words SOBRIETY, RECOVERY, ABSTINENCE, HEALTH, HAPPINESS, JOY, & LOVE appear in the 12 Steps. The word ‘alcohol’ is only used once, when it was PATCHED into the 1st Step for the word “sin.” But Wilson wrote “ We are powerless over ‘alcohol’… Oxford Group Slogan; “We are powerless over sin & have been defeated by it. AA is only about keeping AA alive and taking all the credit for anyone else's life. You can check in, but you can never check out. http://www.salon.com/2013/02/03/inside_rehab_how_it_could_work_better_and_why_it_doesnt/ http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-cult_a0.html

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