City working with sober home project after ordinance complaint

Published: Aug. 3, 2017 at 5:41 PM CDT
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The City of Fargo and a growing sober home project are working together to resolve a complaint about the way they are operating.

The F5 Project is a non-profit organization helping people who get out of jail to stay sober, and transition back into the community.

Right now, they have four sober homes in Fargo. However, someone sent a complaint to the mayor's office, questioning why there are more than 3-non-family members living in the homes. That's against city ordinance.

Thursday, members of the F5 Project went to city hall to have a conversation with officials. Adam Martin, founder of F5 says, "I'll be honest that we knew that there were processes and codes that we were not following." He told city planners that there is a big need in the community, his homes keep filling up with recovering addicts, and routinely has to turn people away.

The city seems to understand. Senior planner, Dan Mahli says, "This is an important need that's being met here, we have to figure out how it ties into the land development code." He asked the non-profit to apply for group housing and wants to work with them. "This is how cities grow, you know. You take a look at the existing codes, and you are always constantly trying to improve them, and so we have a group who is trying to meet a need, and we got to make sure it fits with existing codes, and if the codes need to be amended, or if land usage needs to be changed, but neighbors also have a right to know what's happening."

While Martin is working with the city, he has concerns about what will happen in the meantime. "Sometimes I think that a process can be more important than a person." He's worried the city will ask some people to move out of the sober homes. "At the end of the day it is a city decision, and I am a little worried, yes. And the last thing I want is anyone to sleep on the streets because there is nothing more needed in the community than a place like an F5 house because all of our homeless shelters are full, our detoxes are constantly getting filled up."

Mahli says he doesn't want people thrown onto the streets either, as the application and inspection process continues, the two sides plan to go over the findings in October.

Martin says he will not allow any of the current residents do not wind up on the street, even if he has to take them into his home.