Council amends zoning to allow shelters for women, children

Published 3:43 pm Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The effort to bring a homeless shelter for women and children to Washington cleared a hurdle Monday.

That’s when the Washington’s City Council voted unanimously to amend the city’s zoning ordinance to allow such shelters as a special use in two residential zoning districts (R-6S and R-9S) and in the office and institutional zoning district. The city’s Board of Adjustment would decide whether to issue a special-use permit and set specific conditions for the entity receiving the permit to meet.

If someone sought a special-use permit for a homeless shelter for women and children, adjacent property owners would be notified so they could appear at the Board of Adjustment meeting to comment on the permit request, according to John Rodman, the city’s director of community and cultural resources

The Open Door Community Center, a community coalition, has plans to open a shelter for homeless women and children.

At the council’s Feb. 13 meeting, Dot Moate, speaking for Open Door Community Center, which received its nonprofit status last month from the N.C. Secretary of State Department, asked for a one-time startup contribution of $10,000 from the city. The council took no action on the request, indicating it would consider it during its budget work sessions in the coming weeks.

Susan Zachary, a board of directors member of the nonprofit group, told the council it’s time for a shelter for homeless women and children in Washington. “We are a small town with a big heart. We need a shelter where we will not only provide a bed for them and other resources, but we will provide dignity and respect and common, yes, common, courtesy. … We need to take a big step in doing what God has been telling us to do for many years,” she said.

Moate also made a plea for the amendment to be approved. “We can assure you that whatever property we select, we will inform the neighbors, go out and talk to them and tell them what we are going to do before we actually make the move,” she said Monday.

“What we plan on doing is purchasing or renting, preferably purchasing, a piece of property as a facility that we can modify according to what the state rules are and what the building inspectors are going to require us to have,” Moate said last month. “We are looking at several pieces of property. We haven’t selected anything in particular yet.” She did not identify the pieces of property under consideration for purchase.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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