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Helga Township responds to Restore House lawsuit

BEMIDJI — Helga Township is asking that a lawsuit filed against it by a Bemidji nonprofit be dismissed.

Kenneth Bayliss, a St. Cloud-based attorney, filed a response in Hubbard County District Court on behalf of Helga Township on Wednesday. That response denies the allegations that the township board used “arbitrary” findings of fact to reject the Restore House’s conditional use permit application.

That permit would have allowed them to house nine people in its home on 229th Avenue in northern Hubbard County for chemical dependency treatment. That would be more than the normally allowed six people in a residence, according to the complaint filed June 11.

The complaint, filed by Bemidji-based attorney Tom Kuesel, states that the grounds that Helga Township used to deny the permit are “legally insufficient.” It asks the court to force Helga Township to approve the permit application.

Dozens of Helga Township residents packed two March 4 meetings that lasted more than six hours where Restore House’s conditional use permit application was heard. Many there said they didn’t want the nonprofit to move into the home, citing safety concerns.

Restore House staff, however, tried to assure residents that the people living in their homes aren’t a risk to the community. 

According to the complaint, Restore House is currently operating the treatment facility at the 229th Avenue house.

Bayliss declined to discuss the allegations and the township’s response Thursday.

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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