Bloomington residents file a lawsuit against rehab facility

Bloomington residents protests the Steps Recovery drug and alcohol treatment facility opening in their neighborhood, St. George, Utah, Jan. 11, 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A civil lawsuit was filed on Feb. 4 by a group of Bloomington area residents who are opposed to the operation of a drug and alcohol residential treatment facility which opened on Jan. 13.

The facility is located in a residential area known as Bloomington Ranches on Sugar Leo Road. The home is owned by Bloomington Ranch LLC and the facility is operated by Steps Recovery Center of St. George LLC. Controversy arose when the owner announced at a meeting with residents in the neighborhood that they were planning to use the home as a treatment facility.

The lawsuit

The original civil complaint was filed under the jurisdiction of Washington County’s Fifth District Court on Feb. 4 by St. George attorney Bryan T. Adamson, who is representing multiple plaintiffs. The original complaint named the City of St. George as a defendant, however an amended complaint was filed on Feb. 12 in which the city was not included as a defendant.

According to the allegations in the civil complaint, the Bloomington home was purchased by Bloomington Ranch LLC and members of that company include Mike and Jill Jorgensen. The new owners immediately began renovating the home and then held a neighborhood meeting at which, the complaint alleges, the new owner stated that he would not want one of these drug rehab facilities in his neighborhood because it would lower property values.

The neighbors offered to purchase the home from the owners and to find a comparable location in a commercial area for the rehabilitation facility. Jorgensen refused to sell and sought out other properties in the golf course area of Bloomington across the Virgin River bridge. Originally the facility was to have 24 beds, but has now decided upon eight beds, the complaint said.

The establishment of the facility violates city zoning laws, however St. George City refuses to enforce those laws because the federal laws supersede the local laws, the complaint said.

The complaint states that property values in the area have been lowered between 2-10 percent depending upon how close the neighboring home is to the facility. Further, the complaint alleges that even though the establishment of the facility is legal, it is unreasonable to cause economic harm as a result.

The plaintiffs are asking for damages to be awarded to them in an amount to be determined at trial and is also asking for punitive damages to be awarded for intentional and malicious actions of the defendant’s.

Like the Blooming residents he represents in the lawsuit, Adamson also lives near the recovery home.

The City’s response

We were aware of the lawsuit, but we were never served, St. George City Attorney Shawn Guzman said. We do not know why we were dropped from the lawsuit, however the complaint never included any assertions or allegations against the city, “which kind of confused us as to why we were included,” he said.

According to the Federal Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, “anywhere you allow a residence, you have to allow people with disabilities to live there,” Guzman said, we have done everything we can do in following both city ordinances and federal laws in approving this business license.

“Our hands are tied in this matter because of federal law,” St. George Assistant to the City Manager Marc Mortensen said. Recovering drug addicts and alcoholics are classified as disabled under federal law, he said.

Rehab owners’ response   

One of the business owners, Mike Jorgensen, attended a neighborhood meeting in an effort to educate the area residents and help to allay some of their fears, he said. They keep misquoting or taking out of context the remark I made at that meeting, he said. “I said if I was in your shoes and didn’t know what I know, I wouldn’t want it in my neighborhood either.”

Jorgensen does not know how the property values could have been affected, he said, since the facility has only been open for about a month and a half.

“If anything out there is erasing property values,” Jorgensen said, “it’s the 200-300 yellow signs out in the neighborhood.”

The facility charges $12,500 per month per resident and has two to three people on a waiting list who have put down deposits, Jorgensen said. There are no plans to expand beyond the eight beds they are limited to now until things settle down, he said.

The reason there has been so much opposition is ignorance and denial, Jorgensen said. Addiction is a mental illness and it is the brain that is broken and this carries with it a certain stigma.

Neighbors’ response

A neighbor, Nancy Hibbs, 69, who lives near the facility and is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit said services provided by the facility are extremely necessary and a real service to the community and the people that need it, but she doesn’t believe it belongs in a residential neighborhood.

“It’s a business, I would not want a nursing home here either,” Hibbs said.

Another neighbor, Montarae Smith, 80, said it’s too bad it came into a residential area. Smith, who has lived in the nearby home for over 30 years, said she has heard a lot of noise from the construction work and cars “buzzing in and out” of the facility. Concerning the residents at the facility, Smith said “they have made mistakes like everyone else, I don’t feel like they are bad people, they just shouldn’t be in the neighborhood.”

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

Bloomington residents protests the Steps Recovery drug and alcohol treatment facility opening in their neighborhood, St. George, Utah, Jan. 11, 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Bloomington residents protests the Steps Recovery drug and alcohol treatment facility opening in their neighborhood, St. George, Utah, Jan. 11, 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

 

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41 Comments

  • Dan Lester February 27, 2014 at 9:28 am

    There is only one way to find out if your property value has dropped. Sell it and leave.

  • Desrie February 27, 2014 at 9:29 am

    Great Job Bloomington residents… my favorite scripture is the one where Jesus sues his neighbor for lowering his property values! GET A LIFE ya bunch of bigot jerks…..

    • Simone February 27, 2014 at 10:19 am

      Don’t even try quoting scripture to these people. Their minds have been corrupted by hate and intolerance , greed and fascism for so long that they wouldn’t know Jesus if he came down in a beam of light, stood in front of them and told them who he was.

  • Dan Lester February 27, 2014 at 9:38 am

    Why is this back as a new story? Nothing new here since you reported on it three weeks ago when suit filed. Slow news week?

  • Concerned Resident February 27, 2014 at 9:54 am

    Thank you for calling me a bigot jerk. I live in Bloomington and really don’t have much to do about all this, but thanks! You have done a great job of labeling each and every person in the neighborhood. See what this mess has caused? Now we are ALL bigoted jerks. This would not have happened if this facility was in an area where people are not negatively affected. I don’t personally care WHERE it is, but because of all the opinions of others and media exposure, Bloomington is now labeled as a bunch of ” bigoted jerks” regardless of WHO we are.

    • Dan Lester February 27, 2014 at 10:06 pm

      I’ve not called anyone anything. I think you’re commenting on someone else. Please watch where you put your comments.

  • Anne Williams February 27, 2014 at 9:55 am

    It strikes me that the people doing the picketing are causing a lot more harm to the neighborhood property values than the mere presence of this facility.

  • just a guy February 27, 2014 at 10:30 am

    I live here in Bloomington ranches. There are a few people living on my street that are doing more to drive down property values here than that recovery center is. I wonder how many of these people doing most of the complaining are the ones whose yards look like a swap meet.

  • Chris rice February 27, 2014 at 10:43 am

    You bloomington people need to wake up and open your eyes! They are just troubled people that need help! Why would you think that you are so much better than them? NO ONE is perfect! Only our GOD IS! So get your heads out of your butts and realize that you guys are being ignorant.. plain and simple. . ” why can’t people in utah just act normal for once”! Oh yeah… because they are brainwashed fools.. That’s why I moved from St . George utah to fort collins colorado.. actually real people that care and not judge and that are not FAKE!

  • Craig February 27, 2014 at 11:17 am

    Where can we find the names of the bigots, I mean residents that filed the lawsuit? If they have a business, I’d like to know so I can take my dollar$ elsewhere.

  • Bloomington ranches resident February 27, 2014 at 11:27 am

    I feel like most not all but most of these people out here are just merely judgmental jerks. Most of us out here have or had a person in our family with an addiction problem. Who cares where it is at least they are willing to help people especially people like are own family!! Knock of the judging and critisizing and leave it alone. By golly we are all people!!

  • Alvin February 27, 2014 at 11:41 am

    Most of the homes on Sugar Leo are 40 yrs old “and” this neighborhood has been flooded 3-4 times from the river over the yeas. There are many newer areas that more attractive which is why this area might be losing value. Older neighborhoods are just not worth as much.

  • chupacabra February 27, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    Please Lord, tell me these litigious protesters are not professing to be LDS. How is it that we can be stiff-necked and so full of pride that we are not able to stop and lift one another? The questions are many and answers are few.

  • Oh Really? February 27, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    It is my understanding that at least one of the “movers and shakers” of this lawsuit is. . . .
    AN ATTORNEY
    Well we all know that attorneys are by their very nature, a bunch of money grubbing, greedy, do anything for a buck, dirt bags.
    I guess there is no surprise there.
    I wonder if any of these folks every worked at an “honest job,” for even one week?

  • relax February 27, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    As long as they’re not being violent, they have the right to state their opinion about what goes on in their neighborhood. How is it not Christ like, its not like they’re saying they hate treatment centers, they just don’t want it in the neighborhood. People just want an excuse to complain about middle class people being arrogant towards others.

    • Roy J February 27, 2014 at 7:22 pm

      I agree! The entire matter should be put to a vote! Anybody within 1/2 mile radius of any treatment center location will be considered neighbors and entitled to vote them out! Neighborhood with the least votes gets stuck with the facilities!!!…dang I guess SW Center, Cinnamon Hills will also being moving to Bloomington! Sucks to be underpopulated!

    • Sick of them February 27, 2014 at 7:26 pm

      These people will NEVER be middle class. They are low class jerk offs that happen to have some money. They whine about everything that comes along. They fought the truck stop that is across the highway.
      They fought the Sun River Development.
      They fought the WalMart.
      They are professional cry babies, that thrive on creating problems, and they seek attention like spoiled two year olds.

      • Dan Lester February 27, 2014 at 10:09 pm

        Maybe they fought SunRiver because some of the homes out here blow any of theirs out of the water. And God forbid there be “old folks” in the area. And those “old folks” even go to Walmart on occasion. Oh the trauma……

  • Bloomington Resident February 27, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    The best part of these comments is the structure of your complaints. You claim the people to be bigot jerks, attorney dirt bags, fake, and my personal fav. someone even claims that if Jesus came in a beam of light, that they wouldn’t recognize him. I love how people claim these people to be judgmental by being judgmental. Simple truth of whats wrong with this world. Here is news for who ever wrote the following above. I grew up in Bloomington my whole life, my family just recently moved from there. Sure just as any community there are some difficult people to deal with, but more in site there are some AMAZING people in Bloomington. Actually for the most part that entire community is Amazing! I am now a doctor and my dad actually owns a rehab center lol. When people talked so ignorantly about the people of Bloomington, it made me think back to where I was when our house flooded during the St. George Flood. I have never seen a community act so well together during this time. We had people we didnt even know sand bagging every little spot until early hours of the morning and it didnt stop there. Less than a year ago, I drove by to see some of the community out fixing the lawn and house of my dear friend that is 93 years old.. and it goes on and on!!!! So here is my little piece, let God judge and let people do what they think is best for their families. Rehab centers are a serious issue that those of you who don’t own wouldn’t know. Perhaps you had a family member go through a rehab center and it was nothing, but that doesnt mean everyone who walks through that door isn’t a head case. People usually going there are not in the right state of mind, but rather go there to sober up. Understand how frustrating it would be when there is 4 cities around your residence that they could build a rehab center and it would be just as effective. My main point is, more than half of you dont live there, and even though it’s sad and we need to make sure we take care of our people who fall into addiction, we also need to look to our families and it’s safe to say that if the rehab center wasn’t built there that there are other facilities throughout town, its not like they are cutting off the supply to help addicts. I wouldn’t want my house being between my dads rehab center and wake up telling my kids every morning, thats were you go when you get addicted to bad things, now go play out front. Or maybe a better example convicts are people too, but I wouldn’t want them putting a jail right next my house so people could recover from the crime they have committed next door. It’s just not a family environment!! A rehab center is not a family environment, it’s not a house, it’s a place for people to recover and get BACK to their family environment! Point in case, it’s a lot easier to say bad things about good people, especially when you are not in their situation. Now I’m sure someone is going to be dumb enough to say something about this comment. So humbly I say to you, I wont talk back because I learned from Good People…. When you fight with Pigs, you both get dirty. Cheers

    • Roy J February 27, 2014 at 7:58 pm

      You have a good point, citizen. I think the majority of citizens here would also like to point out that many of us live on the edges of commercial zoning by necessity, not by choice, and therefore, must raise our children next to these facilities. Once again I would like to put it to a vote by sheer population numbers…because if you admit, as you do, it is not good for your family to be near such a facility (I think you are wrong, but whatever), then should you not also admit it is bad for other families? And if so, why are you complacent about their welfare? Finally, while we are at it, doesn’t the population of many of our apartment complexes rival that of the entire affected Bloomington area? I think that the greater good will be definitely served by making fewer families suffer by having to live next to a facility…at least by your argument! I agree with the owner’s of the facility and the majority of commentors on this issue.

    • Sick of them February 28, 2014 at 10:31 am

      Oh yeah, you have such a poignant post here. You are a doctor? Then why do you write like a slightly retarded 18 year old? Your post is so full of crap it smells.
      Now go pork out. Cheers (or is it jeers?)

  • Blake February 27, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    I can’t help but wonder if any of these Bloomington residents have spoken with any of the La Verkin residents that have had a treatment center in their neighborhood for many years now. I have been to the center in La Verkin and it is quiet, well kept and honestly if no one told you that it was a treatment center you would never know it was there.
    I’m fairly certain that many of these folks are speaking from fear and lack of actual information. For those that believe the residents will likely rob them first in order to get some money to buy alcohol or drugs, you are very mislead. I suggest that these people arm themselves with facts as opposed to fear mongering and ignorance.

    • Joyce Kuzmanic Joyce Kuzmanic February 27, 2014 at 7:35 pm

      Blake, we did not look into LaVerkin, but St. George News reporter Tracie Parry went to the neighborhood in Payson where the owner has another Steps Recovery Center; see that input at the following report:
      http://www.stgeorgeutah.com/news/archive/2013/10/22/mjf-bloomington-recovery-center-suffers-vandalism-threats-payson-recovery-center-hailed-a-good-neighbor/#.Uw_04PRdWwk
      Thank you for your comments,
      ST. GEORGE NEWS | STGnews.com
      Joyce Kuzmanic
      Editor in Chief

    • Nikki.S March 12, 2014 at 10:05 pm

      Agreed, Blake. Most people are ignorant as to what a residential living treatment facility DOES and the absolutely strict guidelines that residents MUST follow to remain in that home. For example, you must remain sober; you must have a job; you must submit to daily drug screens; you cannot have friends over just to chill out; your family either cannot visit or must schedule a visit in advance, you must attend multiple meetings a day; you must do chores; you must do volunteer work in the community. There are no if’s and’s or but’s when it comes to these rules. There will not be traffic in and out of the neighborhoods at all hours and you are not in danger. I see a lot of people saying they “don’t care where” the facility is, as long as it’s not near them. The fact of the matter is this: MOST ADDICTS WANT HELP. The problem is that there aren’t enough treatment facilities to accommodate the number of addicts who need help. But scores of rehab facilities are being advertised on tv, you say? Well, do you realize an addict can’t walk through the doors of a facility like Promises or Passages Malibu without shelling out at least $40k? No addict has that kind of money laying around and insurance companies don’t often cover drug rehab. You can’t possibly realize the pain and frustration that sets in when you’re begging for help, yet turned away at every door. Lower-priced rehab programs are sparsely available and, for those in operation, the waiting lists are often more than 6-months. So it shouldn’t truly shouldn’t matter where these facilities are located. It should only matter that they exist and offer a lifeline to a drowning human being.

  • Kerry Memore February 27, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    I’m not mormon but I do have disability and drunk or drugged up all the time. First the horrible people in this setting is the ones charging 12,000.00 a month for a disabled person most people raise family of 4 on 3,000 a month. 2nd is the people that write in talking about Jesus or church’s Ect because they are hypocrites. Jesus forgave the women who committed adultery with this last statement go and sin no more. And since you brought God into it, what name will you call him when you realize he is the great segregator he does separate the evil from unveil, light from dark, night from day, water from land and yes sinner from sinless. We are all lucky Utah let us in and have let us stay. At least we have the drug attacks and drunks excepting their disabilities now if we can get the others too you know which ones.

  • Bub February 27, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    I WOULD TAKE THE REHAB AS A NEIGHBOR OVER THESE SIGN-HOLDING GOONS ANY DAY.

  • emily February 28, 2014 at 12:02 am

    Why is it not okay for a rehab for addicts to be in that neighborhood, but its perfectly fine for companies such as Danville LLC. to run a residential housing for people with handicapped disabilities? I believe that the residents of that neighborhood don’t want to be known for a “drug rehab” due to that fact that families are being raised there, if it was a rehab for anything else, such as the elderly, I’m sure this wouldnt even be an issue.

  • Diane February 28, 2014 at 8:26 am

    Wow!!!! What a racket $12,500 per month per person. That is over $100,000 per month to “care” for 8 people. Looks to my like these “disabled” are being exploited by the “do gooders” who now have others fighting their battles for them. It seems today that anyone can say they are helping others while they take others pain right to the bank.

    • Bub February 28, 2014 at 11:10 am

      The perfect LDS members of this neighborhood will not have to worry, because as stated before, these will be “high class addicts.”

  • Coffeelarge February 28, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    It’s really easy to stand atop your soap box and name-call the Plaintiffs/homeowners, but I bet if you actually resided in a home in the Bloomington Ranches area you may think again. Are you really truly just peachy with drug addicts as neighbors, around your children playing outside, peering into your backyard….and let’s not forget the increased risk of having a burglary or your medicine cabinet ransacked for pills.

  • Cheri February 28, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    Im sure the residents in that community would feel a lot differrent if they had a family member struggling with addiction. How does someone, who is behind closed doors, and trying to better themselves, effect any one other than themselelves? What if me and a bunch of my neighbors didnt want a church next to us, should we sue the church? Especially when missionaries come to our door every other week? These people in this facility are trying to better themselves, just be happy and let them be… these people are beautiful for wanting to change. And they are met by ugliness and doubt. Ive met more beautiful personalitites in a recovered addict than i ever have in a person that has never struggled.

  • JustMe March 1, 2014 at 7:46 am

    7 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

    3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

    Judgmental people will be judged not only in this life but into the next. May these protesters lose a loved one to addiction, and be forced to find treatment. Your home values are a poor excuse, home values go up and down. You all should be happy its not a sex rehab for pedophiles, its a treatment home that helps people see how drugs ruined their lives. You can’t fight addiction living in a terrible area. You jerks need to look around and see the huge amount of drugs in this town, go ahead and turn a blind eye while all these young people turn to drugs because of your judgments because they don’t fit into your Mormon righteous molds, because they are outcastes not only in school and by peers but by an entire fellowship of self induldged, rude, inconsiderate, uncompassionate judgmental residents. This town is a terrible lie filled with disgust. Your karma will return you a terrible vengeance for your idiocracy

  • tc rider March 2, 2014 at 11:12 am

    I hope they put a drug and addictions rehab center in every high end development in and around Saint George.
    Maybe it will close a little bit of the enormous gap of the haves and the have nots.
    Or like Californias … the 1%
    Ed. ellipsis

  • deemf5@hotmail.com March 4, 2014 at 1:42 am

    I can’t believe these people. They want to sue a treatment center and close it down rather than help stop the horrible drug problem in this city. Hmmmmm help get druggies clean and sober or shut down the very place that might do that and let them run amuck in the city all strung out probably causing more harm to everyone and everything. I will pray for you people. This is HORRIBLE!!!

    • Nikki.S March 12, 2014 at 9:31 pm

      Could not have said it any better. You hit it on the head. They want addicts to get sober, as long as they don’t have to see it, be anywhere near it or support the places that offer the rehabilitation services. It’s disgusting.

  • CJ March 6, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    Just because a person has drug or alcohol charges or an addiction problem does not automatically qualify them under the American Disability Act. An individual must actually be “disabled” due to the addiction. Many addicts/alcoholics are not “disabled” due to the addiction. Many own businesses, have jobs, even degrees. Any addict/alcoholic “disabled” due to the addiction can qualify for Vocational Rehabilitation and Social Security benefits and Many addicts/alcoholics do not qualify for these services, as they are not “disabled”. They do all qualify under the HIPPA Confidentiality Act during their treatment time, even on an Outpatient level and from the time they contact for treatment. These are not the same act. A Residential Inpatient Treatment Facility licensed for Addiction Treatment is also a multi-family dwelling and the zoning must be for “multi-family” for a treatment facility to claim discrimination.

  • CJ March 6, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    STEPS treatment facility in Payson is in the proper “commercial zoning”, and “multi-family dwelling zoning”. A business where your customers are ordering over the internet is not the same as a business where the customers actually come to your home for your products and services. There seems to be some misperception regarding what American Disability Act truly covers and how many laws (zoning and such) can truly just to be ignored based upon a discrimination claim.

  • Nikki.S March 12, 2014 at 9:28 pm

    It amazes me that people around the country rant and rave about stopping the drug epidemic and getting kids sober, yet they rant even louder when treatment facilities show up anywhere near them. What in the world are you people thinking? Do you think that drugs will be miraculously wiped off the earth by passing laws that make it more difficult to GET those drugs? Hate to burst your bubble, but that doesn’t do a single thing to stamp out addiction. You want addicts to get clean and “save the kids”, just as long as you don’t have to see it or get your hands dirty doing it, right? Let’s let the politicians pass laws and form committees to talk about the number of overdoses that occurred last year, yeah that will solve things. Put millions into commercials that run, telling all those kids just how dangerous drugs are. See how far that gets you. You want all those “filthy, law-breaking, lower-class addicts” to go somewhere and get clean, but you don’t want to support the facilities that help provide that source of sobriety if they make you feel “icky” by association? What happened to saving all those precious children you claim to care about? Aren’t they the reason you apply those shiny “Say No to Drugs” bumper stickers on your cars? The very idea that you want to help eradicate addiction by suppressing any hope of providing rehabilitation is nothing less than deplorable. You should be ashamed and have the word “hypocrite” permanently stamped on your foreheads. Let one of YOUR children become addicted to something and I guarantee you’d be singing a different tune. Treatment is the only, and I do mean only, solution to solving the addiction epidemic. You deny these people treatment; you deny them any hope at all. And by default, you support the very thing you claim to hate.

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