Walter Mencken 2:37 p.m., March 1
Uptown Planners to Discuss Transitional Housing Facility for Combat Veterans
Battle lines have been drawn in Old Town over a proposal to build a transitional housing facility for combat veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. For months, community members and administrators of the Old Town Academy have fought a proposal to build the "Aspire Center," a 40-bed facility where combat veterans would receive treatment for PTSD or help recovering from mild to traumatic brain injuries.
The school's administrators and the hundred or so parents who have children enrolled in the charter school say the facility is not a good fit for the community and could possibly place children in harm's way. Administrators say if the project moves forward, the school would likely have to close its doors.
Local community groups have also come out in opposition to the project. So far, the Mission Hills Town Council, Five Points/Middletown Business Association, and Old Town Chamber of Commerce have voted against the proposal.
On the other hand, officials from Veterans Affairs say if the project doesn't move forward, funding for a facility would run dry, and veterans in need of help would be forced to fend for themselves.
Last month, more than 50 people spoke both for and against the proposal during the monthly meeting of the Uptown Planners. At that meeting, the boardmembers voted to continue the item so that they could review the environmental and zoning documents. The group will once again discuss whether the city should grant a conditional use permit for the project during a meeting tomorrow night at the Joyce Beers Community Center.
In preparation for the meeting, chair of the Uptown Planners, Don Liddell, asked for some guidance from the city attorney's office. In a letter, writing on behalf of the Uptown Planning group, Liddell asked if the facility is considered a "transitional housing facility" or a "residential housing facility." In the proposal, city staff had labeled the project as a "transitional military facility." The designation could decide whether the project conforms to current zoning laws.
Judging by the letter, which did not give a determination on whether the project falls under "transitional" or "residential," the Uptown Planners may decide to sit the vote out and discuss only on an advisory level.
"You have inquired into the ability of the Uptown Planners to take an advisory vote regarding the project while the use determination issue is unresolved," read the letter from deputy city attorney Shannon Thomas. "Because it is possible that this issue may remain unresolved until the hearing to decide whether the permit should issue or not, the Uptown Planners may wish to make alternative advisory recommendations."
The Uptown Planners will meet at the Joyce Beers Community Center in Hillcrest at 6pm
More like this:
- Councilmembers Set To Vote On Old Town Transitional Housing Facility For Combat Veterans — June 22, 2012
- Fight Over Old Town Transitional Housing Facility For Combat Veterans Continues — April 4, 2012
- St. Paul's Cathedral Wants to Rise Up — July 5, 2011
- Kick in the Pants — May 6, 2010
- Fire Code Scrambled? — April 9, 2009