State Representative Bruce Antone is weighing in on the Orlando Union Rescue Mission homeless shelter relocation as the proposal remains in jeopardy ahead of an Orange County Commission meeting next month. In letters sent to Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and all County Commissioners, Rep. Antone agreed with concerned residents and urged the County to “vote to deny the request for the zoning change.”
After the Orange County Board of Zoning Adjustment voted to recommend denial of the Orlando Union Rescue Mission application last month, OURM filed an appeal to the full Board of County Commissioners.
Rep. Antone reminded Mayor Jacobs and Commissioners about the “multitude of reasons why numerous individuals are opposed to the zoning change and proposed construction” at the 3250 Old Winter Garden Road location.
The state representative declared the proposed location for the OURM homeless shelter “will impact the surrounding neighborhoods in a negative and adverse manner.” He also points out the proposed location would be within 500-700 feet of Liquor Masters, and that at least four churches, four day care facilities and several neighborhoods are all within a half mile radius of the site.
Echoing what many local residents testified to the Board of Zoning Adjustment, Rep. Antone wrote, “The addition of the newly proposed homeless shelter will accelerate the decline of an already declining community.”
The current relocation controversy was triggered by OURM’s recent $3 million sale of their downtown property to the Orlando Magic in order to allow the Magic to develop a new entertainment center. With the entertainment plans, those involved did not want a homeless shelter as a neighbor any longer. But local residents continue to push back as well, setting up another controversial hearing in front of County Commissioners next month.
“There is a tremendous amount of opposition to this zoning request and the proposed homeless facility,” Rep. Antone added before closing his letter. “I respectfully ask that you adhere to the recommendation of the Board of Zoning Adjustment. As stated in the final position of the BZA in declining the zoning change request, the proposed land use would ‘exacerbate’ service issues already being experienced and act as a ‘detrimental intrusion into the surrounding area.'”
Mayor Jacobs’ response letter to Rep. Antone acknowledged the recommendation to deny, and stated “the BZA discussed many of the same issues referenced in your letter in reaching their final recommendation.” Other than that, Mayor Jacobs did not say much on the issue. The public hearing before the full County Commission is scheduled for May 19, 2015.