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Residents upset about proposal to turn old monastery into rehab center

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Posted at 10:23 PM, Jul 10, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-11 10:35:02-04

SOUTH OGDEN, Utah -- The Mount Benedict Monastery in South Ogden closed in 2012, and now a group wants to reopen it as a treatment center for addicts.

The proposal isn’t sitting well with residents who live next door to the property.

They voiced their concerns at a public hearing on Thursday night. The city’s planning commission was considering whether or not they should give a conditional use permit to the Horsley Foundation, a non-profit that seeks to open the Steps Recovery Center.

"Our program is helping people find something they believe in greater than themselves to help them with their lives, as well as deal with the mental health issues that are usually behind the addiction the person has,” said Mike Jorgensen, the founder of the center.

Jorgensen currently operates two other facilities in St. George and Payson, but the center in South Ogden would be his largest. He hopes to transform the 18-acre property into a 64-bed residential treatment facility for addicts.

“Those people that they refer to in the remarks they’re going to make are our people,” Jorgensen said. “They’re my daughter. They’re myself. They’re my best friends in this world.”

But the homeowners who live next door to the property don’t believe the project is right for their neighborhood.

“To allow a 64-unit facility would not be what’s best for the nature of the property, not what’s best for the nature of the neighborhood. This safe, nice neighborhood we believe would be changed drastically,” said one resident.

The complaints from the crowd ranged from concern over a possible reduction in their property values to frustration over the size and scale of the project.

“Our opposition was not based on a lack of social need, but rather on the inappropriateness of the locating a large commercial facility at the end of a residential neighborhood,” said a resident.

After nearly 2.5 hours of public comment, the committee decided to allot a week for residents to submit their comments in writing. Later this month, they will hold two meetings. The first will be a closed-door committee meeting. The second will be a public meeting, in which the committee makes their recommendation to the full South Ogden City Council.