By Tristan Ettleman for The Arizona Republic
Phoenix Rescue Mission is planning to expand its men’s facility in southwest Phoenix.
But some of its business neighbors are fighting the proposal, saying it’s bad for the neighborhood.
The mission plans to add three new buildings to accompany the existing structure on the mission’s property at 35th Avenue and Cocopah Street.
Phoenix approved the mission’s use permit in September, but neighbors are appealing to the city’s Board of Adjustment. A hearing is scheduled for Dec. 7.
Dan Mardian, president of the nearby Marco Crane & Rigging Co., filed the appeal. He said the mission’s expansion will have an adverse effect on the community.
Mardian’s appeal cited increased foot traffic, “excessive vagrancy” and “degrading of property values” as examples of the expansion’s adverse effects on the area.
Mission officials look to the expansion as a means to help more people, which they believe could in turn decrease homelessness in the area.
The new warehouse, multipurpose and recovery buildings would provide more space for the mission to expand its residential recovery program. They would include room for more computers, meeting space and living areas.
The expansion will run about $11M.
The existing building will stay on the property.
Ken Quartermain, project manager of the expansion, estimates construction would take about nine months, and wants to be close to finishing or done by the end of 2018.
Phoenix included several requirements for the new use permit to help mitigate some of the neighbors’ concerns:
- Communicating with the community on the impact of expansion plans.
- Working with Phoenix police.
- Placing video cameras throughout facility and enroll in virtual block watch with the police department.
- Not feeding, hydrating or counseling clients alongside or on 35th Avenue outside of the property.
- Posting at least two signs directing pedestrians to use the crosswalk and not jaywalk.
- Limiting the number of residents to 250.
- Conducting regular reviews and report back to the zoning officer every six months for 18 months.
Hal Owens, president of Precision Components Inc. across the street from Phoenix Rescue Mission, said his concern is that the mission has deviated from a prior use permit that indicated the intent was to serve families and not individual men.
Part of the stipulation for the existing use permit was that the mission serve a maximum of 32 families. A zoning hearing officer had previously interpreted that this meant 160 individuals, defining a family as five people.
Tricia Gomes, a special projects administrator at the City of Phoenix, said the mission is able to operate as a homeless shelter within a quarter mile of a residential district because the facility precedes an ordinance prohibiting this proximity.
But the planned expansion required the mission to get a new use permit.
Mardian said he supports the residents involved in the mission’s long-term recovery and residential programs.
He is concerned that the expansion would prompt an increase in homeless gathering outside and around the mission and impact the businesses, residences and schools in the area.
Owens also said he was concerned about residences and other nearby businesses.
Gomes said multiple tests are carried out to determine if an entity will have an adverse effect on the community, which is how use permits are granted, including potential decreases in property values.
While the zoning hearing officer ruled in September that there would be no adverse effect on the community, the Board of Adjustment could disagree and overrule that decision Dec. 7.
Read more at The Arizona Republic.
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