KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A home in the Hickman Mills United Neighborhoods is starting a debate.

Nine people in a substance abuse program live inside, but neighbors and the Hickman Mills C-1 School District said they don’t want them there.

On New Beginnings Sanctuary’s website, it says the program is a 12-month, or more, sober living program that includes both faith-based and secular recovery programs.

“If you bought a house, would you want that house next door?” resident Bobbie Proctor said. “We just do not want it there, and the city knows better.”

For months the company has been operating a sober living program in the house — off Manchester Avenue in south Kansas City, Missouri.

The city said the program is in an improper zoned space.

“We know that when you put those type of facilities around schools, there’s schools close by and childcare centers close by, there’s park areas,” Hickman Mills Superintendent Yaw Obeng said. “It leaves the open opportunity for things to happen.”

New Beginnings Sanctuary was cited in October 2022.

The city issued the following statement:

“The City received a complaint about an organization operating outside of the approved zoning for their facility. The City found the operator to be in violation. The property owner was cited for operating a halfway house and a group living facility in an improperly zoned space. The owner appealed the ruling which is their right.”

The case was heard by the Board of Zoning Adjustment on Feb. 14; however, there is no ruling at this time. The case was continued to the next board meeting scheduled for April 11.

This determination would only overturn the violations and would not rezone the property.

Ownership would need to receive approval to rezone the facility to a large lot residential district or an industrial district and then obtain a special use permit to operate legally.

The company’s attorney, Sarah Jane Hunt, appealed the citation, mentioning the Fair Housing Act.

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing because of race, disability, and other factors.

The company said residents are recovering from drug and alcohol addiction with the disability of substance use disorder.

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Hunt responded to our request, saying:

“This is a sober home for individuals in recovery from addiction to drugs and alcohol. As we have relayed to the City, the residents of this home are protected from discrimination from municipalities and their zoning laws under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Act, and the Missouri Human Rights Act. Accordingly, we have requested a reasonable accommodation to allow the residents to live in the community of their choice free from discrimination. We are hopeful the City will comply with the long line of legal precedent on this issue and grant our request.”

The hearing is happening on April 11 during the Board of Zoning Adjustment’s meeting.