In a recent decision in the case of the Omega Corporation of Chesterfield v. D. Duane Malloy et al. [No. 812080 (Sept. 7, 1984)], the Supreme Court of Virginia upheld a Circuit Court order restraining construction and operation of two group homes for mentally retarded adults in two Chesterfield County residential subdivisions. The Court's decision is troubling not only because it nullifies an eight-year effort to establish these particular group homes but also because it reflects an unfortunate insensitivity to the human fights of mentally retarded persons. In a larger sense, the Court's ruling also exemplifies the many obstacles which impede the development of suitable community living arrangements for mentally disabled citizens.

The Omega Group Homes

Section 15.14852 of the Virginia Code, enacted in April 1977, declares it to be the policy of the Commonwealth to afford physically handicapped, mentally ill, mentally retarded, and other developmentally disabled persons "the benefits of normal residential surroundings" and to promote their "optimal assimilation" in the community. The planning for the two Omega group homes reflects a coordinated effort by federal, state and local governments to promote and implement this policy, and thereby to help moderately retarded citizens realize their full potential as human beings and to restore to them the full benefits of citizenship.

Richard J. Bonnie, Group Homes and Restrictive Covenants, 4 Developments in Mental Health Law 17–18, 24, 31 (1984).