A home for emotionally disturbed children in Fairfax County may be forced out of the suburban neighborhood because of a decision yesterday by the county Board of Zoning Appeals.
The board decided unanimously that the group home in the Ravenwood Park section of the county, where homes are valued from $70,000 to $150,000, does not constitute a family and therefore violates local zoning laws that allow only single family residences.
County zoning administrator Phillip G. Yates said yesterday afternoon that he has not decided whether to ask the group home to relocate. The home, which is operated by Environments for Human Services for Northern Virginia under contract with the county's Department of Social Services, can ask for a special-use permit to remain in the neighborhood.
Yates said he could not comment on the future of the 32 other residential care homes in Fairfax that provide community-based treatment for children and adults with problems ranging from alcoholism to emotional ailments.
The county Board of Supervisors asked in June that the county executives come up with a zoning law change requiring public hearings and special-use permits for all group homes.
Although the home in Ravenwood Park had not caused any problems in the neighborhood, residents protested its presence and brought matter to the zoning appeal board.
Supervisor Alan H. Magazine (D-Mason), who has objected since April to the home in Ravenwood Park, said yesterday's decision "will make other group homes think long and hard about who they will have manage their facilities in the future."
Magazine and community residents had objected that the supervisors of the emotionally disturbed children at the home on Cheryl Drive in Ravenwood Park were not permanent residents of the home. The supervisors rotated on eight hour shifts and did not give the proper kind of supervision, Magazine said.
John Bryant, administrative director for Environments for Human Services, said yesterday he had no comment on the zoning decision and added that he has received no recent complaints from residents around the group home. The home is now empty, Bryant said, because the six teenagers who live there are at summer camp.