The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday November 26th

Town debates shelter tonight

Council to wait to vote on move

After years of debate, the Chapel Hill Town Council will hear from residents in a public hearing on whether a local homeless shelter should get a new address.

Residents will weigh in on the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service’s application for a special use permit to build a new men’s shelter near Homestead Road.

Chapel Hill Town Council member Sally Greene said the council will not vote on the shelter tonight but will determine based on the public’s response whether to put the issue up for a vote at the next business meeting or hold another public hearing.

The IFC is attempting to move the shelter out of its current location on 100 W. Rosemary St. into a site at 1315 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. near Homestead Road.

The land used for the proposed 16,250-square-foot, 52-bed facility would be leased to the IFC from the University for $1 a year and would provide a 16-bed increase from the Rosemary Street location.

Chris Moran, executive director of the IFC, said his organization has already given presentations to several committees and the town planning board.

“What we’ll do … is present the facts and present all the information we can on why this site is a good site and why we believe it’s a good application,” Moran said. “It’s up to the town to make a decision.”

Council member Penny Rich said she expects a lot of questions to be raised at the meeting.

“It gives the opportunity for people to speak what’s on their mind, question the development pros and cons, and if there are concerns on anyone’s behalf, those concerns are answered at the time,” Rich said.

Resident Mark Peters helped create, a compilation of arguments against the proposed site. He said his group of neighbors is among those presenting against the relocation.

He said one of his group’s primary arguments is that the proposed site is within one-fifth of a square mile from other transitional housing facilities and is adjacent to pre-schools, public recreational space and neighborhoods.

Peters also said the public has been left out of the site selection process.

“If … this public hearing constitutes a replacement for a public site search or even publicly-vetted criteria, the answer is absolutely not,” Peters said on whether the public hearing could be considered a step forward in allowing residents to have more say on the relocation.

But Moran said more than 300 people participated in the IFC’s three community discussions last spring, where participants provided comments and recommendations to consider.

“As you’ll see on Monday evening, we’ve made changes based on those discussions,” Moran said.

Rich said she expects the discussion of the IFC’s special use permit application to attract attention from many residents.

“The chamber will be packed, I guarantee you.”

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