A transitional house for men serious about their sobriety is coming to 2626 Ogden Ave. in Superior.
The Superior City Council, in an 8-2 vote Tuesday, May 4, approved a special use permit that will allow Horizon House Sober Living to assist men in recovery to make the transition from treatment to independent living.
Councilors also approved amending the permit to remove a one-year limitation adopted by the Plan Commission that would have required Horizon House owner Joe Brennan to reapply for the permit next year to continue operation.
Councilor Brent Fennessey, a member of the commission who opposed the limitation, garnered full support of the council to strike down the time limit. He said it’s a stipulation the Council hasn’t placed on any other special use permit the city has issued.
“We’re acting as if these men who made the decision to walk away from addiction are second class citizens,” Fennessey said. “At the same time, you’ve got to consider the federal government considers addiction as a disability. Because it’s a disability, it’s protected by the Fair Housing Act. Not only would denying this special use permit be discrimination and illegal, it’s also morally wrong.”
After listening to concerns expressed by neighbors of the property, councilors acknowledged those concerns but expressed empathy for people transitioning to change their lives.
“I would say, Mr. Brennan, you're welcome to make a sober house right next door to me,” Councilor Ruth Ludwig said. “We have a transitional house in our neighborhood for women and children to get back on their feet. I heard the same thing from my neighbors when Harbor House was coming into our neighborhood.”
Ludwig noted that a manager would be living on-site to help the residents in their recovery.
“Everybody needs a hand up,” Ludwig said.
“This step process is important in recovery,” Councilor Nicholas Ledin said. Working in corrections for the last 10 years, and working with people facing addiction, he said he’s never feared for his life or safety when talking daily to people the sober house could help.
“A second chance is needed,” Ledin said.
Councilor Warren Bender, who lives in the neighborhood, and Councilor Jack Sweeney opposed issuing the special use permit in a roll-call vote.