Mirror Ministries’ plans for ‘restoration home’ in Pasco stalled after tie vote

Mirror Ministries

PASCO, Wash. — Leaders of a Tri-Cities nonprofit want to build a facility to expand their current mission, but they’re facing some push back from the community and the county.

Mirror Ministries supports survivors of sex trafficking by offering therapeutic programs and other resources. Members of the organization would like to take it a step further and build a restoration home for young girls. It would be a safe space where minor, female survivors of sex trafficking could live more long-term.

“These girls are victims,” said Tricia MacFarlan, executive director of Mirror Ministries. “We as citizens in our community really need to step up and give them the care and respect they deserve.”

Not everyone wants to take on that responsibility.

A Franklin County Planning Commission hearing was held on Tuesday for staff to vote on whether or not to approve a conditional use permit for the proposed project. Mirror Ministries staff have their eyes on a piece of land in Pasco, but some neighbors voiced concerns at Tuesday’s hearing.

Some of the concerns listed in letters included the “safety of the local children given the history of the abused youth,” and the addition of the home changing “the makeup of the local neighborhood.” Other nearby residents were concerned about their property values going down.

According to documents presented to the planning commission, phase 1 of the proposal would remodel an existing residence on the property to accommodate up to six residents plus staff. In phase two, another building on the property would be remodeled to become a second home, and phase three would be the building of a third home.

“The basic footprint of the property is not going to change much,” said MacFarlan. “It’s still going to look like other homes and other properties in the neighborhood.”

MacFarlan also wanted to address any concerns regarding security and safety.

“We’re not a prison, we’re not a drug rehab center, we’re not a mental health hospital, we’re a restoration home,” she said. ““What message does that give to them, if we’re thinking that because you’ve been abused you’re now a criminal and because you’ve been abused you’re now somebody to be afraid of?”

MacFarlan said that potential residents will be screened ahead of time. If they need mental health services or some kind of rehabilitation program, they’ll be directed to those kinds of facilities.

By the end of Tuesday’s hours-long meeting, which included time for public comment on both sides, the planning commission was split on a decision. Three members voted to approve the conditional use permit, and three voted against.

MacFarlan said regardless, they are going to keep moving forward with plans for a home even if the location ends up being different than the original choice. She said the Mirror Ministries board will meet and they will also stay in talks with the county to figure out next steps.

“We know one way or another that this restoration home is really needed, and we’re called to build it,” she said.

KAPP-KVEW reached out to the planning commission for comment and has not heard back.