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Council to move forward with Community House review

The Chapel Hill Town Council on Monday decided to delay finalizing proposed guidelines for a homeless shelter until after it’s completed a review of the proposed IFC Community House near the intersection of Homestead Road and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

Residents of neighborhoods near the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service project argued for pursuing guidelines and said they wanted to see tough standards about proximity to parks, ABC stores, day-care facilities and other public places.

Tim CoyneSmith disagreed with delaying the standards until after the IFC’s special-use permit application had been reviewed. He said the decision overlooked the opportunity to utilize community input and work of citizens in developing the guidelines.

IFC executive director Chris Moran said the organization is in agreement with the guidelines and would likely implement most of them regardless of the timing.

The council voted 6-2 in favor of the delay, with council members Matt Czajkowski and Laurin Easthom voting against the proposal.

Czajkowski said he was particularly worried about a shelter being close to a park. The town’s Homestead Park is near the IFC’s proposed site.

Council member Donna Bell advocated for moving forward without adopting the guidelines, saying the town was effectively developing guidelines for the project through the special-use permit process. “It will always be a balancing act,” she said.

The council is scheduled to open a public hearing on the IFC’s special-use permit application at its meeting on Monday. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. and will be shown on Channel 18.

In other action Monday night, the council:

• increased the budget for the Better Buildings program by $75,000, reflecting an additional round of federal support. The program provides funding for energy-efficiency improvements by local businesses;

• approved an April 9 fundraising event atop the Wallace parking deck for Kidzu; and

• agreed to name the road to Southern Community Park and the Southern Village Park and Ride lot Sumac Road.

– Staff Reports

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  1. Mark Peters

    Neighbors requested strong proximity limits between overnight at risk facilities to prevent overconcentration. Neighbors also requested that at risk overnight facilities be located away from schools, parks, neighborhoods with defined proximity limits like hundreds of other places so that violent and sex offenders will not be near such sensitive uses and ALSO so that when we fund a facility with taxpayer money that it can house homeless offenders. Neighbors haven’t said anything about ABC stores as far as I know, but we have asked that only dry shelters with clean and sober men near schools and parks. IFC’s proposed facility allows intoxicated and high men in the overnight portion.

    Abettersite.org has documented issues with the shelter guidelines and the process used to create them on our website at http://www.abettersite.org

    The neighbors who formed http://www.abettersite.org believe that a public process should have been used to site this facility which is poised to receive $2.3M of taxpayer support to date and could be 100% fully funded by taxpayers in 4-5 years at the current rate of requested funds ($500K requested last month).