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Neighborhood asks officials not to double down on group homes p2

We are picking up the discussion from our Jan. 6, 2013 post. Residents of an Eastport neighborhood are asking Maryland state officials to postpone or cancel the opening of a planned group home. It will be the second group home for residents with psychiatric disabilities on the street, and homeowners are concerned that the problems they have had with the existing home will only escalate when the proposed site opens.

The two homes have little in common, according to state records. The existing home is licensed for six residents -- the limit was eight residents until recently, when the state lowered the number in response to reports of disruptive behavior in the neighborhood. The organization that owns and operates the home also provides psychiatric services to the residents.

The new home's owner is a nonprofit that acts as landlord only -- the organization does not provide services to the residents, just housing. And, the home will have just two residents, not the six or eight that the existing home has. About half the residents of similar homes have jobs. Finally, the organization does not serve individuals who have a criminal history. According to the organization's executive director, the two residents in many of the homes it owns are mother and child.

The Maryland Office of Health Care Quality has investigated complaints about residents of the existing home. The final report, due early this year, will include a corrective action agenda for the home if the agency sees violations. If there aren't any, the neighborhood says it will continue its opposition to the home.

For the resident who is leading the campaign against the new home, the differences between the two facilities are irrelevant. The issues with the existing group home must be addressed, he said, before another home opens.

Disputes like this can tear apart communities. The need for safe and caring environments for people with disabilities often runs up against homeowners' concerns for the safety of their families and their property, and their property values. Zoning ordinances will not keep the second home from opening on the same Eastport street as the existing home -- for the time being.

Source: Capital Gazette, "Eastport group home stirs passions," Earl Kelly, Dec. 28, 2012

Our Annapolis, Maryland practice works on issues like the one discussed above. You can learn more about the firm by visiting our real estate litigation page.

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