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TIPTON — Hope for the Hurting, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that is seeking to open a 90-day drug addiction treatment facility in rural Tipton County, is claiming in a recently filed petition that the Tipton County Board of Zoning Appeals “prejudged” and “failed to be a neutral decision-maker” when it voted to deny the nonprofit’s special exception request last month.

The nonprofit filed a petition for judicial review June 30 in Howard County Circuit Court, appealing the board’s denial. The petition asks the court, under Judge Lynn Murray, to reverse the BZA’s decision and to provide all other just and proper relief.

Hope for the Hurting was given two properties at 2155 N. 100 East and 2249 N. 100 East by their former owners, Warren and Michelle Stine, with the intention it would be used to house the drug addiction treatment facility.

The facility, dubbed The Oasis, would serve a maximum of 20-25 people, and would be a “full-service” voluntary treatment addiction facility primarily funded by private health insurance, according to the nonprofit.

The Oasis would work primarily with area employers to house and treat their employees who are suffering from drug addiction. Full background checks would be done and no violent or sex offenders would be allowed into the facility. The facility would also employ around 25 employees, including licensed medical doctors and nurses, and people to monitor the security cameras that would be placed on the adjoining properties.

The BZA, toward the end of a nearly four-hour long meeting June 1, unanimously voted “no” on the special exception request to operate a “social rehabilitation center” in an agriculture zone. The board cited public safety concerns and that the proposed treatment facility was not aligned with the county’s Comprehensive Plan, which states that rural residential homes should remain as such, as reasons for its denial.

Hope for the Hurting is now arguing that the decision by the BZA to deny the request because of public safety concerns was “not based on any actual evidence but relied on prejudice against those who (are) in recovery and the irrational fears stated by residents who opposed Hope’s proposal.”

The petition also accuses the BZA’s decision to be “without observance of procedure required by law” because the board required Hope for the Hurting to obtain a permit that was not required, and it claims the BZA “worked backwards from its desired result of denying the petition.”

Additionally, the petition argues that the BZA’s denial based on the claim the proposed treatment facility doesn’t align with the county’s Comprehensive Plan is “arbitrary and capricious and lacking in substantial evidence.” It states that the proposed facility would not change the “physical features” of the two properties and argues The Oasis is “consistent with residential use already allowed for agricultural districts.”

Tyler Juranovich can be reached at 765-454-8577, by email at tyler.juranovich@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter at @tylerjuranovich.

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