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Homeless site back up for debate tonight; City leaders also set to decide on firearms in workplace

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A site for a proposed homeless camp and an initiative that would allow city employees to carry firearms in the workplace are among items on tonight’s Roswell City Council agenda.

At the 6 p.m. meeting at the Roswell Museum and Art Center, the City Council will consider a third site for a homeless camp at East Alameda Street and South Grand Avenue. Earlier this month, the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission denied applications for zoning variances to allow the Roswell Homeless Coalition to run homeless sites on two other city properties that were approved by the Roswell City Council last month.

City staff subsequently identified the third location at South Grand Avenue and East Alameda Street, on Street Department property, as a proposed site for the Homeless Coalition to run a temporary housing facility for up to 30 months.

City Planning Manager Bill Morris said the city has notified some of the property owners adjacent to the proposed site at 300 E. Alameda St. Morris said some additional fencing would be needed at the north end of the site, which is generally a business and industrial district.

City Council members in September approved two other city properties as possible locations, but the P&Z Commission voted unanimously to deny the necessary zoning variances for a city Parks and Recreation Department office and equipment yard near North Virginia Avenue and East 12th Street, and a secondary site near Grand Avenue and East College Boulevard, directly south of the Wool Bowl.

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Several speakers raised concerns at the P&Z Commission meeting that a homeless facility near their businesses or residences could foster crime, impact tourism and devalue properties. Others refuted those claims and said the city needs to help its estimated 182 homeless people.

A homeless site with people living in tents is not legal under city zoning law, and requires zoning variances.

Another resolution up for a vote tonight would allow city employees to carry concealed weapons on city property. The City Council’s Legal Committee approved the resolution by a 2-1 vote in late September.

City Councilor Jason Perry, who initiated the resolution, said the Clovis library shooting was a wake-up call. Perry said city workers should be able to defend themselves at work. Chaves County allows its employees to carry concealed weapons in the workplace.

City Councilor Juan Oropesa, the City Council’s lone registered Democrat, voted against the resolution at the Legal Committee”s meeting last month, saying he is not “a pro-gun person.”

Perry said the concealed carry proposal is not a mandate, just an option for city employees. He said city employees also have a constitutional right to carry firearms in the workplace.