Board reaffirms OK given to shelter

Homeless facility expansion upheld

Over the objections of some nearby business owners, a homeless shelter on North Avenue got the go-ahead Tuesday night to expand its facility.

By a 6-1 vote, the Grand Junction Planning Commission denied an appeal by nearby business people to quash the expansion by Homeward Bound, 2853 North Ave.

Richard Schoenradt was the only member to vote against upholding the commission’s approval of the expansion..

Commission members who voted to strike down the appeal said they believed expanding the facility would help alleviate concerns of neighbors that drunken, homeless people loiter near the shelter and scare away potential customers. If those people were accepted into the shelter at night instead of being turned away, they wouldn’t be as likely to be out on the streets, some commission members said.

Sheryl Fitzgerald, who filed the appeal, said after the hearing that it was unlikely she would hire an attorney and continue fighting the expansion by going to the City Council.

The 5,165-square-foot expansion will allow the shelter to increase beds from 87 to 130 by adding an upstairs area. Homeward Bound workers are reporting an increasing number of homeless people, especially families, seeking their services of food and shelter.

“There are those that are in dire need of our services,” Darin Carei, president of the board of Homeward Bound, said to commission members.

Carei said the shelter this year housed a parent and a one-day-old baby, and that up to 38 people a night were sent to area churches in the winter as part of an overflow program.

Fitzgerald, who owns a strip mall at 2851 North Ave., filed the appeal along with Alan Sarkisian, who owns an apartment and business complex at 2850 Belford Ave.

Fitzgerald said she is concerned about the shelter expanding without adding any parking spaces and that the parking lot design will be a burden on delivery truck drivers trying to exit west onto North Avenue. She said the shelter does not keep up with its landscaping, so she doubted that its requirement to add more shrubbery will make the place appear any nicer. While she, too, wants homeless families and others to have shelter, it’s a small portion of the homeless population that causes problems in the neighborhood, she said.

“We’ve seen how it’s been,” she said. “I cannot be optimistic about the future.”

Homeward Bound officials said after the meeting they don’t know when construction will begin, as they have not yet secured funding for the expansion.


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