Lawsuit challenges proposed sober living home in Overland Park’s Shannon Valley neighborhood

The suit, filed late last month by a couple that lives near the proposed Concord House, claims the city denied them due process by not properly reviewing plans for the Concord House. The city and homeowners' association argue that federal law precludes them from denying housing to those seeking recovery for addiction. Above, the front door to the home proposed as the sober living and recovery facility. File image.

An Overland Park couple has filed suit in Johnson County District Court asking a judge to review the city’s decision allowing a respite house for sober living in Shannon Valley Estates.

The suit, filed Feb. 22 by David and Cynthia King, claims the city denied them due process by not properly reviewing plans for the Concord House, which is separated by one house from their property on West 113th Street in the Shannon Valley subdivision.

The Kings ask that a judge find the city’s actions “unlawful and invalid.”

The Concord House is a project envisioned by the nonprofit Artists Helping the Homeless for 9119 W. 113th Street.

It is the family home of Kar Woo, founder of the charitable group.

The respite home would be patterned after Oxford Houses which already exist in Overland Park and elsewhere.

Concord House would shelter up to eight people who have been vetted and referred by hospitals and detox centers for support in their efforts to overcome alcohol and substance addiction. The home would not take violent or sexual offenders.

News of the plans for the home has sparked concern among some neighbors, who questioned whether the temporary residents would be intimidating to neighbors or a threat to safety.

They also expressed worry about the effect such a facility could have on property values.

Some neighbors, independently of their home owners association, began efforts to stop the plans through zoning rules.

They met a dead end when Overland Park’s legal advisors said the federal Fair Housing Act prevents the city from processes that would deny access to housing for those recovering from addiction.

Homeowners’ association not part of suit

The Shannon Valley homeowners’ association board sought its own legal opinion, from lawyer Christopher Kurtz.

Kurtz noted that substance abuse disorder is recognized as a disability under federal law and therefore falls under the protection of the Fair Housing Act. It’s a well-recognized legal principle that federal law preempts state law, he said.

On its website, the homeowners’ board said “at this point, the board has done all that it can do.”

“As a reminder, the (homeowners association) and its residents are under an obligation to allow the residents of the Concord House to live in peaceful enjoyment of their house in accordance with the reasonable accommodation granted by the city that federal law entitles them to have,” the statement said.

The Kings’ suit asks a judge to rule the city acted improperly in failing to apply zoning rules to the proposed house. It also asks for a jury trial.

The city of Overland Park and Kar Woo declined to comment on the pending litigation.