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The issue of group homes in Bel Air hasn’t gone away nor is it going away any time soon.

Again, the specter of the feds has stopped another local elected official from taking action that would put group homes in their place. The latest legislator to kowtow to the feds is Del. B. Daniel Riley, who chose not to introduce a bill that would have regulated group homes, after he was told by Maryland Attorney General’s Office that such legislation would violate the Americans With Disabilities Act and/or the Fair Housing Amendments Act.

The Bel Air town commissioners are wrong in trying to limit how many group homes are in town. Town Commissioner Terry Hanley’s complaint that “We are not saying we don’t want them, but 14 of them, in a 2.9-square-mile town, is getting a bit exorbitant” is wrong.

How many group homes or how many rehab centers or how many banks or how many convenience stores or how many of anything else are in town shouldn’t be the town board’s concern. What should be the town’s concern and what should fall under its jurisdiction, not the federal government’s, is where they are allowed.

Zoning is a local matter and the feds should butt out. We understand that left to their own devices, some jurisdictions would legislate them right into another jurisdiction, which is the federal government’s concern. What is reasonable, however, is for the town to say group homes are not allowed in areas zoned for single family homes.

It would be discrimination for the town to say they aren’t allowed in R2 or R3 zoned areas which are designated for multiple families residences. And it’s certainly discrimination to say you don’t want them, even if the words are just that we don’t want so many of them. Bel Air needs to get its mind right on group homes and stop trying to legislate how many can be in town and start trying to make sure they go where they’re supposed to be, which is just about everywhere but in single family neighborhoods, and the feds be damned.

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