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Rehab center permit denied

Press Photo by Lisa Call Shawn Solberg, petitioner for a special use permit for New Beginnings Recovery Center, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, addresses the Dickinson Planning and Zoning Commission at City Hall, Wednesday morning.

More than 15 people raised their hands at a Dickinson Planning and Zoning Commission meeting Wednesday at City Hall when asked if they were against having a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in their neighborhood.

The commission denied a special use permit for the facility.

Former oilfield worker, nursing home administrator and petitioner Shawn Solberg hopes to open New Beginnings Recovery Center at 1050 26th St. West, but the project isn't sitting well with neighbors.

Solberg said the facility would have five bedrooms with two twin-size beds each, an estimated five to seven patients consistently, 24-hour staffing seven days a week, security, fencing and lighting.

"They'll be staying there 24-7 with an open-door policy," Solberg said. "It's not going to be a lockup institution setting."

With plans to bring in a licensed addiction counselor from South Dakota, Solberg has a verbal agreement with another local counselor to provide additional services.

Solberg said he has obtained state licensing and though he is not presently licensed for adolescent care, it's a future possibility.

Solberg estimates about 95 percent of his patients would be there on "their own will" because he would be a private pay service.

Concerns were raised about whether convicts would be sent to the facility.

"Like I said, I'm Blue Cross Blue Shield, it's not a state facility," Solberg said, adding he does not have any government contracts. "I mean, these are going to be business owners, employees, good people that ran into a bad problem."

However, about 40 residents showed up in opposition and one man presented commissioners with a petition containing 49 signatures opposing the project.

"I feel there's a need for it, there's been a need for it for many, many years," Solberg said. "I didn't plan on any of this happening. I didn't think it was this big of a deal."

Cory Hibl, who presented the petition, said while opposed neighbors are not against a recovery center, they're against its proposed location.

"My concern is if they are free to roam, what could be coming into our neighborhood?" Hibl said.

With day cares in the facility's surrounding area, several residents also voiced concerns for their children.

Renee Rattin, owner of Just Kids Childcare located at 859 26th St. West, said if the facility were to open, she would be very concerned with the safety and well-being of area children.

"I'm not against a recovery center, I believe there's a time and a place for it, but just not in our neighborhood," Rattin said.

Dickinson Public School District also owns lots north of the proposed location and also has concerns.

DPS Superintendent Doug Sullivan said though DPS respects Solberg's efforts, the project would raise issues and concerns and DPS opposes the venture, given unanswered questions.

Solberg said while he was slated to close on the property at the end of the month, he may end up looking for an alternative location.

"Dickinson has nothing," Solberg said. "I'm just trying to make something work that the town needs for now."

Commissioner Ron Hartl, who is originally from Cando, said the rehabilitation facility there has been an asset to the community and Cando has not experienced any issues stemming from it.

"I can tell you, you have the need," Hartl said. "I have received calls asking about that facility's community and so forth from people in this community that are currently using it."