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Kalispell City Council to take up conditional use permit for recovery home

by ADRIAN KNOWLER
Daily Inter Lake | January 2, 2023 12:00 AM

Kalispell City Council is expected to vote on a conditional use permit for Absolute Ministries' proposed recovery home at its meeting Tuesday evening.

The meeting, moved from its normal Monday time for the New Year holiday, is scheduled for 7 p.m., Jan. 3 in City Hall, 201 First Ave. E. Those unable to appear in person can attend remotely via Zoom.

The recovery home, located at 730 First Ave. W. is expected to house five men who have undergone inpatient substance abuse treatment and “graduated” from Absolute Ministries' Whitefish program. According to Aaron McPherson, the nonprofit’s Kalispell branch president, the program is faith-based and aimed at men who possess “a desire to follow Jesus,” he said.

At last month’s Kalispell Planning Board meeting, the proposal faced criticism from two residents who objected to the program’s presence in their neighborhood, citing concerns regarding property values.

A 2019 study commissioned by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that substance use disorder treatment centers showed no impact on surrounding property values, and that anecdotal claims to the contrary were overstated.

Although the council must vote to approve the permit, its passage is expected. The city is not legally required to issue a permit for this use, but Planning Director Jarod Nygren said the city puts applicants through the process to garner public comment on such cases.

Nygren warned at the planning board meeting that barring the recovery home from operating may put the city on the wrong side of federal housing discrimination law, which classifies addiction as a protected disability.

The public will once again be able to comment on the proposal on Jan. 3.

ALSO ON THE AGENDA Tuesday are conditional use permits for a multi-family residential development as part of a mixed-use property at 428 First Ave. W. and an expansion of the Westside Neighborhood Parking Management Zone to include Fifth Street West between Fifth Avenue West and Sixth Avenue West.

Council will also consider the staff recommendation to award engineering firm MMI the contract to repair a bridge at the Buffalo Hills Golf Course.

Reporter Adrian Knowler can be reached at 758-4407 or aknowler@dailyinterlake.com.