WDAY: The News Leader

Published February 10, 2010, 08:23 AM

Proposed group home decision a relief for some north Fargo residents

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - The Fargo Planning Commission is saying "no" to a proposed group home in North Fargo for criminal and sexual offenders. Commissioners voted down the idea today, five to two. The Christian Sports Commission wanted to buy this house at 106 16th street north, and let up to 12 men live inside.

The men, all convicted criminals, would wear GPS monitors and be watched 24/7. Even with those safety measures, neighbors strongly opposed the idea.

“Because I don't feel that the conditional use permit is compatible with the zoning of general commercial in this particular neighborhood.”

The decision can be appealed to the city commission. Leaders from the Christian Sports Commission haven't made that decision yet. For people living in that North Fargo neighborhood, today's decision comes as a major relief.

Many of the neighbors are still trying to cope with the tragedy they all shared 17 years ago. That's when Jeanna North was kidnapped, raped and murdered, by an escaped prisoner, Kyle Bell. Wounds from that tragedy are still fresh.

It's been nearly two decades since 11-year old Jeanna North was kidnapped, raped and murdered. But to the people who knew her, it still seems like yesterday.

“I have struggled and I have survived through what I have been put through with my best friend's abduction and murder.”

“To keep such an abomination and slap in the face to the memory of a little girl, murdered two blocks away, in our neighborhood and give us a chance to heal.”

This is one of many battles people close to Jeanna continue to fight, trying to maintain their neighborhood, making sure more murders, like Jeanna's never happen again. That's exactly what they fear would happen if a group home, for criminals and sex offenders moves in next door.

“And you want to talk about a scar you're willing to open? People live in fear in this neighborhood of who's walking down our streets. I don't allow my daughter to ride a school bus because I don't know what is outside my door.”

While Jeanna north's best friend, Jaime is happy, and relieved about today's decision. She says it's a small victory.

“We have children there, we have families there, and we have lives there.”

Jamie hopes to see more change, like today's decision, and hopes things turn around so her family and other in the neighborhood never have to live in fear again. Neighbors in the area had already started a petition to fight the group home, in all, they had 51 signatures.