A D.C. government plan to move six mentally retarded men into a group home in Northeast Washington was temporarily blocked yesterday by a D.C. Superior Court judge.
Judge Stephen F. Eilperin issued a temporary restraining order against the city's planned use of the facility, pending resolution of a claim by local residents that city officials did not consult them about the proposal.
Eilperin's ruling allows the city to continue work on the house, located at 4012 Lee St. NE, but prevents the men from moving in for at least 10 days.
Members of the Eastland Gardens Civic Association, representing residents in the small neighborhood east of the Anacostia River near the Prince George's County line, said the court action was necessary because they were prevented from voicing their concerns.
"It was the approach that the District made" that prompted the lawsuit, said Herman B. Greene, the civic association's housing chairman. "They attempted to shove it down our throats. The main thing we're opposed to is the fact that we weren't given a chance to consider it."
Eilperin found that officials in the city's Department of Human Services had already decided to open the group home before it notified residents.
The city is under a federal court order to move most residents out of Forest Haven, the city's institution for the mentally retarded, and into community-based settings.
"I just don't want it there," said Charles S. Gibson, a retired postal worker who lives only a few yards from the group home. "I built my house in 1954. If I had known this was coming, I would not have built it there."
The group home is intended to house six to eight severely to profoundly retarded men.
Civic association members contend in their lawsuit that the city should be forced to reopen consideration of whether the facility should be placed in the neighborhood and take comments from residents.
Attorneys for the city told Eilperin that the residents were given adequate notice before the group home was approved.
Eilperin ruled yesterday that the civic association is likely to prevail on the merits of its claim and that residents would suffer "irreparable harm" if the move were not stopped temporarily.
He set a further court hearing on the dispute for Nov. 9.