Planning Commission Public Hearing on “Social Service Delivery” Permits
The City of Fredericksburg Planning Commission hosts a public hearing at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 8, on a proposed Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) amendment to define “Social Service Delivery” uses, and require a special use permit for their location in the city.
Read the proposed amendment.
The public hearing is part of the Planning Commission’s regular meeting, held in Council Chambers, City Hall, 715 Princess Anne St., Fredericksburg.
The recommendation for the amendment was proposed when Micah Ecumenical Ministries applied for necessary permits to relocate their offices. Executive Director Meghann Cotter is concerned about its chilling effect on social service providers in the city. “It is no secret that we view the special use permit process as a barrier and something that, when applied to groups who help people for free, creates a hardship and even discourages responses to community needs,” she said. “What kind of community do we want to be?”
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From Micah Ecumenical Ministries’ Facebook Page
“The City of Fredericksburg released an amended draft of the proposed Social Service Use definition today (April 3, 2015). It includes significant changes. Here are our initial thoughts:
• The changes are a huge step in the right direction. We am very pleased to see the discriminatory language removed and the proposed definition changed to align better with other use definitions, activities not people.
• We remain concerned that Micah is being singled out in this definition.
• Even if it does apply to a broader group, we don’t think that a special use permit should be required in all cases and in all zoning districts. We hope that others will continue to challenge the city to have the conversation about “what kind of community it want to be?” and find ways that social service uses can locate somewhere in the city without a public process and not just in an industrial park.
• It is no secret that we view the special use permit process as a barrier and something that, when applied to groups who help people for free, creates a hardship and even discourages responses to community needs. Best practices in human services, medical and otherwise are all moving to the one-stop, co-located approach. It seems contradictory to proven methods for the city to add additional barriers to organizations who adopt this approach. Essentially, the new proposal suggests that an agency can do case management, training and medical services without a public process, but as soon as you start addressing your client’s basic needs you will need a special use permit. We imagine that many agencies, whether it applies to them or not, don’t see case management and basic needs assistance as mutually exclusive.”
Micah Ecumenical Ministries offers services to stabilize the most vulnerable homeless individuals in permanent housing.
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