Jesse Harvey, founder of the Journey House LLC sober living program have withdrawn a complaint they filed with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development that had alleged  the City of Biddeford discriminated against the sober house, violating federal law. TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune File Photo

BIDDEFORD — The founder of a sober living program has withdrawn a complaint with the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development that had alleged housing discrimination by the City of Biddeford and its codes officer.

The City of Biddeford, in a news release issued Thursday, said Journey House formally withdrew its complaint on June 4, promoting HUD to terminate the investigation and close the complaint.

“The city is grateful to not to have to continue to put resources toward an active investigation,” said City Manager James Bennett. “We remain confident that no discrimination against Journey House occurred. We firmly believe a completed investigation would have resolved this in the city’s favor.”

Jesse Harvey, the registered agent for Journey House LLC filed the complaint March 27 on behalf of Journey House and himself, alleging the city used zoning and land use ordinances to discriminate against residents of a sober residence they operated in a multi-family dwelling at  45 Hill St.

Harvey declined to comment when reached by telephone on Friday morning.

In the complaint, Harvey alleged discrimination by Biddeford occurred on Oct. 19, 2017. The brief narrative stated six adult men were living in the sober house when the city and its code officer Roby Fecteau allegedly told the landlord that “this was an illegal operation since the building did not have a sprinkler system.”

Harvey citied sections of  the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, The Civil Rights Act of 1968 as amended by the Fair Housing Act of 1988, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

The city denied the allegations.

Journey House LLC, which offers sober living to those in substance recovery, began renting an apartment at 45 Hill St. in Biddeford in December 2016. Journey House subsequently opened two sober residences in apartment buildings in Sanford, one for men, and one for women. According to its social media page, Journey House to opened a sober living residence in Lewiston in May.

By December 2017, Journey House had vacated the Biddeford apartment building.

A fire erupted at the multi-unit building at 45 Hill St., on the morning of April 2. An elderly resident, 88-year-old Arnold Goldman, perished in the blaze and several families were displaced.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or [email protected]

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