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Reddit TroubledTeens:
source: ... 3ce6c.html

Kalispell Council approves group home permit

Posted: Tuesday, December 20, 2011 8:32 pm

By TOM LOTSHAW/The Daily Inter Lake | 2 comments

At a sometimes-contentious meeting Monday night, Montana Academy got approval from the Kalispell City Council for its fourth group home in the city.

Council members said their hands were tied by state law.

Located at 527 Second Avenue West, the home will house up to eight youths ages 17 to 19.

The group homes are used to transition students after they graduate from the academy’s fully accredited high school, located on a remote, 400-acre campus in Lost Prairie west of Kalispell.

Montana Academy is a therapeutic boarding school with more than 70 employees and an annual payroll in excess of $3 million. It serves privately placed youths from all over the country.

“State law says we have to treat them as a residential use in a residential zone, and as such, we can’t put any more conditions on them than we would a single family use,” Planning Director Tom Jentz told the council. “We [also] cannot deny them outright because they are something different.”

Following a Planning Board meeting on the issue held weeks earlier, a handful of Kalispell residents continued to speak out against the proposed group home, pointing to their safety and zoning concerns and arguing that the group home could be better located someplace else.

Mickey Lapp told the council that Montana Academy is forcing itself on a neighborhood that doesn’t want it there. “The city’s hands may well be tied here. Montana Academy knows this, banks on it, literally,” she said.

The group home also had its supporters.

Jim Arestad told the council he opposed a Montana Academy group home on Fifth Avenue East when it went in next door to his house 10 years ago. “I have never had better neighbors than them. I want to lend my support. I think they run a very good program,” he said.

Pointing to what they called “appalling” and “disgraceful” statements being made by some people against the group home, John Santa and John McKinnon, the owners and founders of Montana Academy, spoke in defense of their employees, their school and its “bright and capable” students.

Students placed in the group homes are well-behaved and actively involved in the community, going to college, going to work and volunteering in a number of roles, Santa said.

“We’ve created a school that probably has the best reputation of any school in the country of this type,” he said.

McKinnon told the council that the three other group homes have proven that Montana Academy is reputable and responsible.

“As soon as you tell people they don’t have a choice, it comes up if you’re good enough or if it’s safe,” McKinnon told the council. “Those are legitimate points of discussion. But in the last 10 years those questions have been answered in a definitive way. Our kids have been exemplary citizens. I don’t think there’s any evidence to the contrary.”

Following the public comments, the council voted 8-0 to OK a conditional use permit for the group home.

Several council members and Mayor Tammi Fisher said they object to the state Legislature tying their hands on such issues.

“I don’t believe there’s a valid argument being made against the group home tonight,” council member Duane Larson said.

Council member Tim Kluesner called Montana Academy a fantastic program for troubled youths, and said he has a real problem with the “not in my backyard” response from some people.

“We need to do these types of things. Whether your neighbor is old or young or disabled or disenfranchised, it’s our job to try to pull together. That’s what a community is all about,” he said.

Reporter Tom Lotshaw may be reached at 758-4483 or by email at [email protected].

Reddit TroubledTeens:

    Butterfly10 posted at 2:58 pm on Thu, Dec 22, 2011.
    Butterfly10 Posts: 1

    This group home is located within two blocks of Flathead High School. There are two elementary schools a block in either direction. There are several homes for the elderly and handicapped very close by. For those of us who live nearby, we are concerned about safety, pure and simple. At the planning board meeting, we were told that these are just good kids who, for one reason or another, can't live at home. Does a "good kid" really require 18 months of intensive therapy and six months of reintegration into society, costing their parents more than $160,000? And in response to Mr. Kluesner's thoughts that he has a problem with the "not in my back yard" mentality, and that it's our job to pull together as a community. Well, Mr. Kluesner, this IS my community. My neighbors are the old and young, disabled and disenfranchised living in this neighborhood. The boys in this home are not my neighbors. They are from wealthy families from across the country. They are temporary, they won't be settling in this area permanently. They will be cycled through that home every six months. It is my old, young, and disabled neighbors that I want to protect.
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    LittlePete posted at 11:15 am on Wed, Dec 21, 2011.
    LittlePete Posts: 6

    Duane Larson doesn't think a "valid argument" was made against the group home at Monday night's meeting. Evidently, Mr. Larson doesn't believe public safety is a "valid argument."

    Enjoy your retirement from the City Council Mr. Larson... and let's hope your replacement places a higher value on public safety than you do.
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cum guzzler:

A few pertinent threads (among the many) containing more discussion of Montana Academy:

* missoulian/10*24*05/ SCL &self regulation
viewtopic.php?f=44&t=12417, esp. this post
viewtopic.php?f=9&t=17964, esp. this post
* Montana Academy
* "What is 'Therapy' Anyway?" (at Montana Academy)
viewtopic.php?f=9&t=27126Fwiw, there are now at least two threads named "Montana Academy"...

Reddit TroubledTeens:
Thanks for pointing that out, Ursus! I'm horrible at forums, I need all the help I can get!

I searched for "Montana Academy" (with quotes) before I posted and didn't see anything on the first page of results, I figured that the facility would come up immediately if it existed here. I got other stuff that had both 'Montana' & 'Academy' in the same post, but not 'Montana Academy'. Is there a better way to search, like Montana + Academy or something?

And, is there any way I can correct this situation...can I move my post to the orig Montana Academy thread & delete this one? Or have I doomed fornits to forever have two threads titled Montana Academy?

Thank you, Ursus! You have been incredibly kind and I appreciate it!


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