"Things are getting ugly" in parts of the heart of Bel Air, especially where some of town's group homes are concentrated.

Several residents brought their concerns about group homes in the East Broadway-Franklin Street area to the Bel Air town commissioners at their meeting Monday night.

The meeting also included a public hearing on the proposed $15,754,120 budget for fiscal year 2013.

In 2010, town commissioners urged the Harford County delegation to the Maryland General Assembly to pass a bill that would regulate the density of group homes.


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While lawmakers considered such legislation, a letter from the Attorney General's office warned that creating zoning standards for the homes would be deemed illegal.

"We're a compassionate community, but you need to spread [group homes] out," Bob Cassilly, a former Bel Air commissioner and county councilman, told the board of commissioners.

Cassilly said there are six group homes near his house, and a proposal has been made for another.

"It's just absurd," he said. "Bel Air does not need to solve all the social problems of the world."

Gail Sullivan, who lives on Franklin Street, also voiced her concerns with the number of group homes in the neighborhood.

"It's really unfair for the people that live in the area," she said. Sullivan added she is worried the number of group homes will destroy property values.

Robert Hruz told the board, "I'm here because I love the town of Bel Air. I really do."

Hruz and his family, who live on East Broadway, recently moved to the neighborhood from Major's Choice and believes "things are getting ugly where we live. Rapidly."

He called the area a deteriorating community and said that "simply because it is legal" to build group homes in the residential neighborhood "does not mean it should be done."

Commissioner Robert Preston told the crowd that the board's "hands seem to be tied by federal and state regulations." A good direction to go in, however, would be to continue discussions with state representatives.

Budget hearing

During the public hearing on the budget, Cassilly expressed his gratitude for the sidewalk improvements that are included in the fiscal year 2013 budget, but wishes the sidewalks in his neighborhood, especially on Broadway, Franklin and Ellendale streets, were included on that list.

Cassilly described sidewalk repairs as a "continued investment by the town" and something that is needed.

The sidewalks from Klein's ShopRite on North Main Street going toward Rock Spring, he continued, are "the worst looking sidewalks in the town of Bel Air."

Cassilly also mentioned sidewalks on Ellendale Street, an area that ties the community to the Ma & Pa Trail.

The former commissioner had one word to describe the condition of those sidewalks: "pathetic."