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Restore House appeals Helga Township permit decision

BEMIDJI — A Bemidji non-profit is seeking the court’s opinion on its permit request to a local township board.

Restore House Inc., a state-licensed chemical dependency treatment home, was denied a conditional use permit in March by the Helga Township board. That permit would have allowed them to house more than the six people currently outlined at the home under the ordinance.

According to a civil complaint filed in Hubbard County District Court on Tuesday, Restore is currently operating a state-licensed residential treatment facility serving six or fewer people in a home on 229th Avenue. They want to expand the minimum number they can serve from six to nine people, according to the complaint.

The complaint argues the findings of fact the township used to support the denial of the conditional use permit were "arbitrary, capricious, and unsupported by the record."

"The grounds for (Helga Township’s) denial of (Restore House’s) application for a conditional use permit are legally insufficient," the complaint states. Restore House is represented by Bemidji-based attorney Tom Kuesel.

The complaint asks the court to order Helga Township to grant the conditional use permit.

Dozens of Helga Township residents crowded the March 4 meeting where the permit request was denied. Many argued the home would create a safety risk.

Restore House staff, however, said the people living and receiving counseling in their home would not and have not posed a danger risk to the public.

The township’s attorney Steve Bolton said Wednesday he has been traveling and has not read the complaint. Restore House program director Mary Greer did not return a call seeking comment Wednesday.

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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