Sheppard Pratt Health Systems gained appproval this month from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to turn a Ruxton residence into The Reteat, a transitional group home. (File photo / 2011 / February 21, 2012)

Despite local opposition, Sheppard Pratt's application for a high-end group home in a residential Towson neighborhood has received state approval.

Karen Black, director of public relations for the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, confirmed Tuesday that approval for the group home in Ruxton was given by the Office of Health Care Quality and sent to Sheppard Pratt on Feb. 2.

The home will be a temporary residence for patients who have completed the Retreat program at Sheppard Pratt, a voluntary program for individuals seeking mental health treatment, but are seeking additional support. The Retreat is not covered by insurance.

In an email to the Towson Times that accompanied the approval letter and license, Nancy Grimm, director of the Office of Health Care Quality, said that the home "met the regulatory criteria and under state law, we are required to issue the license."

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While early plans for the group home called for an eight-bed facility, the letter that accompanied the state approval lists the capacity as six.

"We will be opening the house with up to six residents and at a future point contemplate amending the license to accommodate eight residents," Bonnie Katz, vice president of business development and support operations for Sheppard Pratt, said in an email to the Towson Times.

Katz added that they have not established a date for patients to begin residing in the house.

Since the project was announced last April, residents in the Ruxton area have strongly opposed the group home.

Residents have put up signs across the neighborhood surrounding the house, which sits on the corner of LaBelle Avenue and Emory Place, urging Sheppard Pratt to stay out of the residential area.

At a community meeting hosted by Sheppard Pratt in April, more than 200 residents turned out to express their displeasure over the plan, citing the value of their homes and a fear of setting a precedent for such homes in the neighborhood.

Representatives from the Ruxton-Riderwood-Lake Roland Improvement Association could not be reached for comment.