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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

More details in IFC men's shelter relocation effort

Posted by on Wed, Oct 21, 2009 at 4:02 PM

Following the IFC's concept plan presentation Monday night, 15 residents, some for and some against, all passionate, the proposed site on the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Homestead Road. 

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Here's what was said that didn't fit into my story, including more specifics on the timeline and the building features and a best of list for the night's comments:

- The more detailed timeline. I wrote that the special use permit application is planned for November and that construction would begin in December 2010 with occupancy set for January of 2012. Here's the IFC's full timetable:

Phase One

May 4: IFC requests expedited review and zoning text amendment of 50 beds (expidited review means this plan goes to the front of the cue, but it still goes through the same number of committees and hearings. The planning board is considering a text amendment that would allow the IFC to have a shelter with more than the current 25-bed limit.)

May 15: IFC submits concept plan

Town reviews concept plan before and after summer recess

Oct. 19: Concept plan public hearing

Nov. 2009: SUP Submittal

Phase Two

Site plan building schematic and regulatory reviews to be completed in May 2010

Phase Three

1) Predevelopment construction document reviews to be completed by October 2010

2) Funding for project to be raised by October 2010

Phase Four

1) Construction bid completed in December 2010

2) Construction from December 2010 through December 2011

3) Final inspection punch list by January 2012

Phase Five

1) Occupancy in January/February 2012

- So what would the building look like? The concept drawing for the building is posted above. What you won't see is the number of environmental features included. For instance, daylighting for the interior, solar thermal water heating, reclaimed water for toilets, air heating chamber to preheat fresh air, a transpired solar collector and impervious parking lot pavement. Beyond that, the building would include an outdoor garden area including a terrace and a space for residents to grow their own food.

-The opposition. Most striking to me was that nearly every resident who spoke against the proposed site lived nearby it, though they were quick to stress that they weren't being NIMBYs.

Tina CoyneSmith: We do not oppose your work or suggest that you are not doing extraordinary things in our commuity. We oppose the location.

(She went on to site that 23 percent of Orange County's homeless population is mentally ill, 37 percent have chronic substance abuse issues and 30 percent of the state's homeless are former prisoners.

Patrick Marlatt: I don't want to appear that we're just this suburban residents who don't want to have this homeless shelter near us. ... You ignore the things around which is pretty scary to someone like me who's trying to raise a family two or 3,000 feet away from your proposed shelter.

(The speaker both lives in the suburbs and opposes the homeless shelter.)

John Walker: We are not empathetic for people who don't take control of their own lives. We're not opposed to relocation. We're opposed to this site. 

(He then said he was surprised the community was not engaged in the search and raised his hands serveral times to volunteer. Councilwoman Sally Greene directed him where to go.)

-The supporters. All who spoke were either IFC staff or volunteers or members of the United Church, which is next door to the site.

Sherman Riggsbee: i thought at lot like you prior to when I got there. A lot of hte men fallen on hard times. ... a lot of the people you see on Franklin Street are streetpeople, are the panhandlers. Those are not the people that live in the shelter and I think the people that live in the shelter, we'll be able to provide them with better service upon moving there because they'll be removed from those people."

(Riggsbee worked in the community kitchen and said he feels bad for the veterans because "I was in the military and I thnk we kind of through them away.")

Robert Seymour: When we found people sleeping in their cars or sleeping under cardboard boxes we did something about it. ... We did not chose the present locaiton (100 W. Rosemary St.). We literally backed into it because we had no other place to go. ... On a cold winter night all beds are filled and we literally ahve dozens on people sleeping on the floor. We need more space.

(The speaker is Dean Smith's pastor and a founding member of the IFC board. He walked the audience through a decade-long history of a serach for a new space explaining that no matter where they've gone, nearby residents have objected. He closed invoking FDR's famous, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself" line in addressing neighbor's concerns of the homeless.)

Henry Lister: "Not once did i have an encounter a resident there (at the current Community House) who in any way made me feel that my safety was compromised. They're human beings."

(Listner is a member of the United Church and encouraged those who oppose the move to "take the hand of the United Church of Chapel Hill and walk with us as we make this a good place for this town.")

-The council response. They'd listened for an hour as residents said the above. Mayor Kevin Foy and councilmen Ed Harrison and Mark Kleinschmidt spent time praising the town's permit process, which allows for such a hearing. Harrison suggested creating a special mayor's committee to allow debate to flourish. Kleinschmidt said the interested parties need space away from the "bright lights and cameras."

Councilman Matt Czajkowski asked for data. "What the community is being asked to do is accept that there won't be any distrubtion to the community by putting the shelter at the proposed site. I would urge the IFC to find info that has data and facts and examples from other circumstances."

Colleague Laurin Easthom was similarly interested in a scientific approach, asking the IFC to show what process it used and how this site was selected above all others. (The site was provided as a gift from UNC.)

Sally Greene challenged the architect to come up with a more innovative design and called this one "generic." "I've seen your work, and you can do better," she said.

Jim Ward, the only other elected official who addressed the actual building, wanted geothermal heat pumps included.

Jim Merritt asked about the lenght of the program for men living at the site. (Laurie Tucker, the residential services coordinator for the Community House, said the program usually lasts six to eight months.)

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