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City officials to consider third site for homeless facility

Lisa Dunlap Photo City councilors are due to consider at their Thursday meeting whether this city Streets Department property on East Alameda Street and South Grand Avenue could be used by the Roswell Homeless Coalition for creating a temporary housing facility for those in need.

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City of Roswell staff are asking elected officials to decide whether a southeast city property could be a possible site for temporary housing for the homeless, the third suggested location for that purpose.

The request follows on the heels of a city Planning and Zoning Commission decision to deny the city’s applications for zoning variances to allow homeless facilities on two other city properties approved for that purpose by the Roswell City Council.

Now the city has identified a potential third location on South Grand Avenue and East Alameda Street.

If approved by all the necessary officials, the city then would allow the site to be used for 30 months by the Roswell Homeless Coalition to house some of the estimated 182 homeless people in the city. At the end of the 30 months, the city and the coalition would evaluate whether to continue with the arrangement or decide on other alternatives.

The matter is due to be considered by the Roswell City Council at its 6 p.m. Thursday meeting.

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City Planning Manager Bill Morris said that the city already has notified some of the adjacent property owners in what is generally a business and industrial district of the city’s suggested use of the property.

“The proposed third site is located at 300 E. Alameda Street and is part of the city’s Street Department,” he said. “Some additional fencing would be needed at the north end of the site.”

City Council members previously approved two other city properties as possible locations: a city Parks and Recreation Department office and equipment yard near North Virginia Avenue and East 12th Street, identified as the preferred site, and a secondary site near Grand Avenue and East College Boulevard directly south of the Wool Bowl. But members of the city Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously Sept. 26 after listening to public comments from 26 people both for and against the applications to deny the zoning variances that would have been needed for the homeless coalition to establish temporary housing on either of those sites.

Most speakers said that they supported a city effort to do something to address the issue of homelessness but did not want such a facility near their businesses or residences for a variety of reasons such as fear of crime, concerns of effects on tourism and worries about property devaluation. Others with the Roswell Homeless Coalition or who help the homeless on their own talked not only of the need to help those who need it, which a survey indicates includes families and teens, but also said they have not encountered the dangerous or criminal behaviors in dealing with the homeless that others have expressed concerns about.

City Manager Joe Neeb also gave his views in a Sept. 30 column after the Planning and Zoning decisions. He stated that a temporary housing site for the homeless would improve the quality of life in Roswell by better managing the situation for the citizens and those in need. “It is not a new problem and it is not going away,” he wrote.

City staff had the option of appealing the Planning and Zoning votes, but they also previously had received the City Council’s approval to select a third site if the first two locations did not work out.

Morris said that, at this time, the matter is scheduled only to be heard by the City Council. The Thursday meeting will occur at the Roswell Museum and Art Center, 100 W. 11th St.

Senior writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.