Residents of an affluent subdivision are threatening court action after city officials approved a proposal to establish a group home for head-injury victims.

The Ogden Planning Commission approved a conditional-use permit for Learning Services Corp. of Layton, which plans to buy and remodel a home to accommodate six to eight adults who suffered head injuries in accidents.Angry opponents, who say they have 300 signatures on petitions opposing the plan, have 15 days to appeal to the Board of Zoning Adjustments.

Fearing a decline in property values and disruption of the neighborhood, they are also threatening a lawsuit to enforce a covenant they say forbids group homes in the Shadow Valley Estates subdivision.

"It's important to understand we're not against the handicapped," said a Shadow Valley resident, Dr. Jeff Haslam. "We have paid premium prices to live there; we should place them in a place that's properly zoned."

Added resident William Miller, "We don't want a business in a residential neighborhood."

Dr. Randy Evans of Learning Services said the home is needed because Utah has inadequate facilities for head-injury victims, many of whom must live out of state. He said neighbors would come to accept the home.

"These concerns are understandable, but not verifiable," he said. "This is not a treatment facility. It's a shared living environment. The residents must be ambulatory, or mobile."

And city officials say a Utah anti-discrimination law requires cities and counties to adopt regulations allowing facilities for the handicapped in residential areas.

"Every one of the 20 or so studies on this topic, reported by the American Planning Association, has found that group homes simply do not affect the selling prices of neighboring properties or the turnover rate of properties," said Ray McCandless, a city planner. "The studies uniformly report that group homes are invariably well-maintained often better than neighboring private homes."