We told you recently about Per Wickstrom, who owns a number of drug rehab centers in Michigan. Per’s businesses have been associated with Scientology’s drug rehab network, Narconon. But we’ve noticed that in recent years, he’s been getting away from the Narconon brand — and can you blame him? With Narconon mired in controversies and investigations and lawsuits in places like Oklahoma and Georgia — and attracting national media attention — word is getting out about the network’s shortcomings.
In Battle Creek, Michigan, Per owned a facility called Narconon Stone Hawk, but in 2008 he re-christened the place “A Forever Recovery,” and not only dropped the Narconon name, he’s doing his best to make it look like he’s severed ties with Scientology altogether. At its website, A Forever Recovery says it offers Christian-based, Native American-based, and “holistic” approaches to addiction and calls them “evidence-based, comprehensive, and personalized.”
Hey, that ought to appeal to everyone, right? Well, apparently the locals aren’t impressed, and have stopped every attempt by Wickstrom to expand the place. So Per’s suing!
We got our hands on several documents associated with the case. Per’s TIA corporation complains that between May 2012 and May 2013 the Pennfield Charter Township (which is primarily northeast of Battle Creek itself) repeatedly turned down TIA’s request for a zoning variance so it could double the size of A Forevery Recovery with a large new building and more parking.
Per’s company complains that not allowing him to add on to the drug rehab facility is essentially a “taking” under the US Constitution.
But in its motion to dismiss the lawsuit, the township — after removing the case to federal court — denies that there’s a taking, calling Per’s complaints “unripe, inadequately pled, and [they] fail as a matter of law.”
We can’t help think of a similar case in Florida, where an equally interesting character, Kurt Feshbach, tried to expand a Narconon center and was stymied by Hernando County. Although the Narconon center eventually won a paltry $74,000 judgment in the case, the county still hasn’t allowed the center there to grow.
So far, it looks like Pennfield Township is sticking to its guns and doesn’t want Per to build out his new project. Will either side give? Or will it turn into A Forever Lawsuit?
We’re looking forward to tonight’s 7 pm performance of The TomKat Project at the Player’s Theatre in the Village. The show is sold out, and as we announced recently, writer Brandon Ogborn and producer Dein Sofley will be introducing us to the cast for drinks afterwards. We hope to see some of you there. Your proprietor will be the bloke being tailed by an Australian TV crew. (We can’t divulge why just yet, but when we say Bryan Seymour is involved, we hope that gets a few hearts racing.)
PS: Seymour won’t be there tonight — he sent a crew while he’s elsewhere.
Link of Note
Roger Friedman has a fun piece with the news that actress Anne Archer and her husband, big-time TV producer Terry Jastrow, have teamed up with Tom Cruise’s former assistant Michael Doven — whom some of you may remember from a previous story — for a golf-themed movie they hope to film in Colorado, if the state comes through with some incentives.
Posted by Tony Ortega on August 21, 2013 at 07:00
E-mail your tips and story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. Here at the Bunker we try to have a post up every morning at 7 AM Eastern (Noon GMT), and on some days we post an afternoon story at around 2 PM. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.