Residents fighting group home lose another battle


A group of Fallston residents has lost what its members had hoped would be a second chance to argue their case against a $6 million foster care complex that has been proposed for their neighborhood.

County Zoning Hearing Examiner William F. Casey ruled Friday in favor of the dismissal sought by the attorney for the Board of Child Care, an agency of the Methodist Church that wants to build the 60-bed facility for abused and neglected youths at Harford and Reckord roads.

Led by resident Salvatore J. Glorioso, the Fallston Meadows Community Association had appealed in February a decision by Harford County Planning Director William G. Carroll that reaffirmed his interpretation of the zoning law relating to group homes.

Michael Leaf, Bel Air attorney for the child care board, countered by filing for dismissal of the case. In a June 13 hearing on that motion, he argued that the issue on which the neighbors' case hinged -- chiefly the definition of a group home -- had been addressed in the group's first appeal more than two years ago.

In his decision, Mr. Casey agreed with Mr. Leaf. The decision noted that the residents had had opportunity to contest the definition of a group home during the appeals process they began in early 1992.

In January 1992, the county granted a special exception to the zoning code to let the Board of Child Care construct a 10-building group foster home in an agricultural zone.

The neighbors continually appealed the decision, claiming that the area lacked adequate public facilities to handle the influx of new residents.

The residents lost a final appeal before the state Court of Special Appeals in Annapolis in October 1993.

Last winter, the neighbors regrouped and launched a new legal battle, claiming that the proposed complex is not a "group home" as defined in the county's zoning code.

The code states that a group home is "a building housing more than eight unrelated individuals operated as a single household with common cooking and eating facilities."

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