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Faith-based plans to treat eating issues face NIMBY

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A group of local businessman wants to open a faith-based treatment center for girls with eating disorders on 144th Avenue near Hillcrest Drive in Dorr, but they’ll have to overcome NIMBY first.

The concept of NIMBY (Not in my back yard) presented some pushback Tuesday night for plans, headed up by Ryan Burgess and Fred Hulst, to build Finding Freedom Ranch on 8.8 acres of land they have purchased from Moline Christian School.

Burgess, president of Finding Freedom Ranch, said he got the idea to establish a facility after his daughter revealed problems with an eating disorder and he and his family had to travel as far as Anderson, Ind. So he said he was inspired to build such a facility here.

The ranch would include a treatment center with therapists, dietitians and 24-hour adult supervision for about a dozen girls. Plans also call for perhaps four to six horses for equine therapy, which isn’t permitted under the current residential agricultural zoning, so the men are seeking site plan approval for a planned unit development (PUD).

The Dorr Township Planning Commission, after listening to considerable talk from neighbors in a public hearing, finally settled on tabling the site plan approval request until its next meeting Tuesday, Sept. 21.

The citizens’ objections essentially were about increased traffic, not fitting in with the rural character of the neighborhood, a one-lane road that is Hillcrest Drive, a retention pond and potential for lower property values. At least one neighbor insisted that changing the zoning for the site could open it to unwanted kinds of inhabitants in the future if the ranch fails.

But Commissioner Larry Dolegowski said, “These guys have a plan and I think they will make it work.”

Despite insistence on an environmental study, it was noted the ranch will hook up to the Dorr-Leighton Sewer System.

Burgess also promised the concerned neighbors that the facility and its services will have very little impact on the surrounding community.

Township Board Member Chandler Stanton also spoke up in favor of the project, calling Burgess “an upstanding person who will be a good neighbor.”

However, it was agreed that more information about the projects and another drawing is needed for commissioners to decide on whether they will recommend the proposal.

In another matter Tuesday night, the commission approved a rezoning request from Charles Tjepkema to change a site from agricultural to rural estates to accommodate his sons’ plans to build houses on two lots.

After winning approval, he quipped, “I now have the luxury of picking my neighbors.”

COVER PHOTO: Ryan Burgess shows a drawing of the proposed Finding Freedom Ranch facility.

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