Representatives for the House of Disciples ministry approached the Denison City Council, on Monday, to request a Conditional Use Permit for a rehabilitation facility on Morton Street.
House of Disciples, a faith-base nonprofit, asked to open a clinic which will offer discipleship to men dealing with addictions ranging from drugs and alcohol to gambling and other habitual problems. The property, formerly owned by the Knights of Columbus, is currently used for parties and other gatherings.
House of Disciples has a similar facility located in Longview. The group plans on working with local churches and ministries within the community and using revenue from a group-connected store to help fund the operation of the facility.
The Council unanimously approved the permit but not before hearing from members of the public.
Matt Stelter, representing the ministry, said that the group would serve individuals with and without criminal pasts, but that it would require extensive background checks before someone was admitted to the 12-month program. He also made clear that the program is not intended as a drug rehabilitation facility but provides faith-based aid to men who want to get their lives in order.
The Rev. Donald Perschall of Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church spoke in opposition to the program. He said that in his 44 years of ministry this is the first such program that he has openly opposed. Perschall said that these programs are needed, but not on Morton Street. He cited the lack of licensed councilors involved with the program and its proximity to two nearby schools as reasons to deny the application. He was also troubled by the lack of an automatic disqualification for individuals with a history of domestic violence.
Frank Ventura, representing St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, also opposed the project because of location but not the goal. On top of its proximity to the schools, Ventura also aired concern about its proximity to an adoration chapel, located across the street. Ventura was also concerned that another, less reputable group could move in after the operation has closed and use the same conditional use permit, without need of approval from the Council.
James White, the current owner of the property, spoke in favor of the clinic. While he has used the property in the past for events, he said that the ministry could do something meaningful with the property.
“I ask you to give these people a chance to help those that are in dire need of help,” said White.
The Council’s approve comes with some conditions: The group is only allowed to house nine residents with two supervisors and is required to provide adequate parking before going into operation. The group expects to be ready within 90 days.