City responds to Hope's Landing permit dispute
The City of Dickinson has responded to criticisms and claims made online following a dispute with Hope's Landing Sober Living Home over a zoning permit.
The message was posted on the city's Facebook account at 4 p.m. on Wednesday.
"Several weeks ago the City was notified by concerned neighbors that a sober living facility had opened on Shinagle Drive. Upon review, it was found to be true that a facility for up to 10 men had opened in a single family dwelling. City code limits occupancy in single family residences to no more than four unrelated people.
"In addition, residential occupancies of more than six people may have to meet additional building and fire code requirements.
"The City advised Hope's Landing of these requirements, requested additional information, and set a hearing for the Oct. 16 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting regarding the use of this facility in anticipation that a special use permit would be necessary. The City also set forth a plan to allow the facility to operate conditionally until after the hearing.
"To date, limited information has been received and we have been advised the facility has closed and the property may soon be for sale."
The sober living home for men opened in May.
The 10-bed facility at 959 Shinagle Dr. is owned by Kayleen Wardner, wife of District-37 Senator Rich Wardner.
A dispute arose between the city and Wardner over whether the facility needed a special use permit to operate in the neighborhood.
The city asserts that it has attempted to work with Wardner and had not taken any actions against the facility.
Hope Manor, a Bismarck non-profit sober living facility, not affiliated with Hope's Landing, posted a lengthy criticism on its Facebook page on Sept. 23 about the city's handling of the issue.
"This demand by the city is not only in opposition of federal law, but it also involves major requirements which financially are impossible for the operators to meet. Unfortunately, the City of Dickinson is making life and death decisions that are not based on the law, but instead are based on fear, politics, ignorance and discrimination."
At the Sept. 3 meeting of the Dickinson City Commissioners, residents along Shinagle Drive expressed concerns about living near the facility.
It was not an agenda item, but brought up during the time allotted for citizen concerns.
More than 20 residents appeared in person, and signed letters were brought from those who could not attend.
A resident brought to the city's attention that the facility was operating without a special use permit, which is required to operate in a residential zone.
The facility's owners did not inform the neighborhood of its presence and failed to gather public input first, the residents claimed.
Residents voiced concerns that the facility did not meet city safety codes, that such a facility would impact their home insurance and property values, and that the facility's tenants were using drugs and causing damage to private property — assertions that Wardner refutes in a letter addressed to multiple government offices and media outlets.
There were no representatives from Hope's Landing who attended the city meeting.
Shortly after the meeting, Hope's Landing announced it was no longer taking clients, with the home serving as a rental with four tenants.
The complete message from the city can be read on its Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/cityofdickinsonnd/posts/935936370093647