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Restore House proposes new home in Helga Township

Restore House is proposing to turn this house, at 51756 229th Ave. in Helga Township, into a residential treatment home for chemical dependency. John Hageman|Bemidji Pioneer

HELGA TOWNSHIP – Restore House, a chemical-dependency residential treatment facility in Bemidji, is proposing another home here.

The house in Helga Township would be a nine-bed facility for men. The Bemidji home at 1001 Mississippi Ave. NW is currently for men, but will be changed into a women’s house in the future, said Restore House board president John Szurpicki.

Between the two homes, 15 people could be treated for alcohol and drug abuse through the faith-based program.

“It’s just time,” Szurpicki told the Pioneer. “There is not a Christian-based program in our area that services women that we’re aware of.”

The conditional use permit request from Restore House for a house at 51756 229th Ave. will go before the Helga Township Planning and Zoning Commission at 6 p.m. March 4 in a public hearing at Helga Town Hall.

The proposal has already met some resistance from nearby residents. 

“I’m not against having a rehab house,” said neighbor Mary Miller. “I just don’t think (this) is the area it should be in.”

Similarly, neighbor Rosella Cook said she and her husband have concerns about child safety.

“There are kids all over the neighborhood,” Cook said.

Despite those concerns, police have not been called to the current Restore House in Bemidji in the past year, according to data from the department.

“We just want to be good neighbors,” said Mary Greer, program director at Restore House. “We’ve been good neighbors in Bemidji … and we want to continue to be good neighbors in Helga Township.”

Silas Hooker, a planning and zoning commission member, said township ordinance requires a residence with more than six people to apply for a conditional use permit.

He acknowledged some residents have expressed concern about the home, but he encouraged those with questions to come to the March 4 meeting.

Restore House, a registered nonprofit, previously attempted to buy the Val Chatel property, a defunct ski resort north of Emmaville in Hubbard County. The Hubbard County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution in support of the project in December.

That facility could have potentially held 27 people, but Szurpicki said negotiations were broken off by the bank.

Szurpicki said there’s currently a large waiting list to get into Restore House.

“It was just absolutely necessary to expand,” Szurpicki said. “We can’t currently meet the need with just a six-bedroom house.”

The current home has a full-time licensed alcohol and drug counselor, a nurse and administrative staff, Greer said.

Greer said a major part of what they do is connecting employers and landlords with people leaving their home.

“So that we’re able to help people get back on their feet again and become viable taxpaying citizens,” Greer said.

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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