Plan for group homes in county goes forward But residents, officials oppose proposal for housing mentally ill

October 28, 1997|By Suzanne Loudermilk | Suzanne Loudermilk,SUN STAFF

Despite protests by community residents and elected officials, a Sheppard Pratt subsidiary is moving forward with plans to open two homes for the mentally ill in Loch Raven Village near Towson and another in a townhouse development in Cockeysville.

With a new $764,000 federal grant, Dulaney Station, a subsidiary of Sheppard Pratt and Enoch Pratt Foundation, can purchase and operate the homes, two of which are within blocks of one another.

The proximity of the Loch Raven Village rowhouses -- in the 8100 block of Clyde Bank Road and 8100 block of Glen Gary Road -- has raised concerns among neighbors and officials, including Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, a 3rd District Democrat, and Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a 2nd District Republican.

"We're very disappointed," Karl Aumann, Ehrlich's chief administrator, said yesterday. "It doesn't appear to be a good use of taxpayers' funds."

Area residents also have expressed concern that the clients -- three in each house -- would be unsupervised.

"Is that good for the people who live in the homes as well as the neighbors?" Aumann asked.

Dulaney Station officials say the homes will be visited at least once a week, and residents will have a 24-hour telephone number to call with concerns.

Dulaney Station also plans to include neighbors on an advisory board and to offer tours of sites it operates, said Bonnie Katz, director of marketing and public information for Sheppard Pratt Health System in Towson.

"We want neighbors to feel more comfortable with what Dulaney Station does," Katz said.

Dulaney Station provides residential services to 70 clients, all county residents, in six homes and 15 apartments. It has a waiting list of about a dozen people, Katz said.

Jim Kelly, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, said Dulaney Station was awarded the grant for "most importantly, its record of service."

Katz said the recently awarded HUD money would be used to purchase the homes, for home improvements, operating costs and rental assistance for clients for five years.

Most neighbors learned of the HUD decision yesterday.

Lily Raines, who lives on Clyde Bank Road, said, "I'm disappointed. We'll see if Dulaney Station does all the great things it says it will do."

In Cockeysville, residents of 120-home Carlton Square off Cranbrook Road also are wary of the planned group home in the 300 block of Ringold Valley Circle. With only two parking spaces assigned for each house, they're worried about crowding, especially if Dulaney Station buys another home in the neighborhood.

"I anticipate they're going to be a good neighbor," said Mike Crosby, who has lived in the community for 12 years. "But I question the way they're doing this."

Pub Date: 10/28/97

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