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Homeless shelter plan takes shape

The passage of the Good Neighbor Plan Monday makes the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service one step closer toward their goal of a new transitional homeless shelter.

The shelter will help integrate homeless men back into society.

Chris Moran, executive director of the IFC, said the council will next get a zoning compliance permit — which he said is 60 to 70 percent complete — and then it can begin the bidding process for the project.

But Moran said they must now also start raising money for the project in the community.

“I would think that some donors have been waiting until the town really moved across this bridge, as they did last night,” he said.

Moran said he hoped to be able to start building by spring of 2013. If everything goes well, the construction will take about a year and a half to complete and the building will be ready to open by 2015, Moran said.

The Chapel Hill Town Council unanimously approved the IFC’s Good Neighbor Plan Monday, after lengthy discussion among residents.

The Good Neighbor Plan intends to address concerns about the new shelter being built at 1315 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

But the plan has also come under fire by many residents worried about the impact of the shelter on the neighborhoods around it.

Moran said the Good Neighbor Plan was more detailed than any other of its kind in the U.S. or Canada in keeping neighborhoods as unaffected as possible.

Some residents were concerned about the 17 beds that will be provided for homeless men in emergency situations, such as severe weather.

“A transitional housing facility and an emergency shelter are equally important for different reasons,” Moran said.

The council also approved by a vote of 6-1 the lease and sublease for the new property.

By the conditions of the special use permit passed in 2011, the leases could not be approved by the council until the Good Neighbor Plan passed.

Council member Matt Czajkowski voted against the motion. He said he wanted the lease to include a provision that would require the IFC to move out of its current location in a town-owned building within a set time limit.

Moran said if he had been able to respond to Czajkowski at the meeting, he would have asked the council to consider an intergovernmental discussion between the IFC and local governing bodies to address homelessness and hunger in the area.

“If there’s an intergovernmental interest, including the University, involved in helping us get all that done, I think the time span (to move out) would be shorter,” he said.

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