The Franklin News-Post|
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Staff Photo by Joel Turner:
STEP Inc. wants to build duplexes on this vacant tract of land that it owns on Dent Street in Rocky Mount.
Friday, May 14, 2010
By JOEL TURNER - Staff Writer
A proposal for the construction of duplex housing in Rocky Mount that would be used as transitional housing for homeless people has drawn opposition from nearby residents.
They fear that the duplexes would be a shelter for homeless people, bring crime to the residential neighborhood and devalue their property.
STEP Inc. wants to build duplex housing at 265 Dent Street on a vacant tract of land that it owns.
Jon Morris, STEP's executive director, said there is a need for such transitional, rental housing because the agency turns away about 75 homeless people each year who are looking for housing.
Morris said that the rental housing would not be a homeless shelter because the residents would sign a two-year lease and pay rent.
STEP would make regular inspections of the property and oversee the program to make sure that it operates smoothly, he said.
STEP would screen applicants for the rental housing and refuse to rent to anyone who has committed violent crimes, Morris added.
But nearby residents told the Rocky Mount Planning Commission that they oppose the proposal for the transitional housing.
"You can call it transitional housing, but to me, it is still a homeless shelter," Doris Johnson said. "We want to keep it a private, residential neighborhood."
A.B. Woody, who lives on West College Street, said the rental housing would lower proper values in the neighborhood.
"This is nothing but a homeless shelter. It will increase illegal activity in the neighborhood," Woody said.
"I ask you to reject this. Give us some protection," Woody told the planning commission members.
Several other residents urged the town to reject STEP's proposal.
Bobby Cundiff, a member of the planning commission and newly elected town council member, said that it is the wrong location for the proposed transitional housing.
"It is admirable that they are trying to help the homeless, but in my opinion, it is the wrong place for it," Cundiff said.
The public hearing was held to get the residents' views and to allow the planning commission to review the proposal. But Matt Hankins, assistant town manager and subdivision agent, will make the decision on STEP's request as an administrative matter.
Hankins said that STEP must submit a plat for the proposed development before he can make a decision.