As Worthington Valley residents continued their opposition to a planned treatment facility for juvenile delinquents in their neighborhood, county officials yesterday weighed the residents' request for an administrative order blocking the group home.
County officials, who received the request Friday, said they understood the residents' outrage, but the federal Fair Housing Act prohibits them from blocking group homes. An alternative site in the Randallstown area also has been considered by the group home's operator.
"I really have tremendous sympathy, and I empathize with the people in both these communities," said County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger. "The most important thing in my life is my family, and it's the most important thing to the people who live in these communities -- and when anything is seen as a threat to the family's safety, of course they're upset about it."
Bruce E. Bertell, owner of Family Advocacy Services Inc., rented a rambling brick Colonial home on Gent Road in November, signing a one-year lease at $3,200 a month. He plans to seek a license from the Department of Juvenile Justice to treat eight teen-age boys at the home. The boys, from 13 to 17 years old, would be severely emotionally disturbed offenders who have committed such crimes as burglary and car theft.
Opposition to the plan surfaced last week when residents learned of Bertell's pending license application. It continued Monday night at the second community meeting in a week called by residents.
"These are dangerous people who are not going to be adequately restrained," said Steven K. Fedder, an attorney who lives in the neighborhood with his wife and two young children.
Other residents at the Monday meeting expressed fears that the facility's occupants would steal cars, break into houses and bring drug dealers to the area.
Fedder is forming a committee to investigate the issue.
Pub Date: 2/17/99