Local residents will gather tomorrow evening for a town hall meeting to discuss the proposed zoning ordinance regarding the Orlando Union Rescue Mission relocation to a site off Old Winter Garden Road. In March, the Orange County Board of Zoning Adjustment voted against OURM’s planned move by a vote of 5-2; however, OURM has appealed the decision directly to the Orange County Commission and the contentious issue remains unsettled.
Community leaders are inviting homeowners, renters, business owners, care givers and clergy to participate in a town hall meeting at the Carter Tabernacle CME Church on April 8th. The town hall will start at 6:30pm. Local law enforcement, community leaders and local elected officials have been invited to this community discussion as well.
The community town hall will discuss the impact of how a homeless shelter like OURM’s planned development will affect the surrounding community, especially public safety concerns related to the planned development, and will allow residents to share their own ideas on what should happen in their neighborhood.
“The Black Community will no longer be a dump site for continued poverty,” Cynthia Harris posted online. “We must tell the Orange County Board of Commissioners we are no longer the dump site for poverty in our community and there will be no more business as usual!”
The Board of Zoning Adjustment vote further complicates plans triggered by OURM’s recent $3 million sale of their downtown property to the Orlando Magic. That sale followed a deal struck by the City of Orlando to allow the Magic to build a massive entertainment complex near the Amway Center, but they did not want a homeless shelter to be their neighbor.
Community residents are continuing their push against the planned OURM relocation. Residents showed up in force at the March Board of Zoning Adjustment hearing. Their public comments clearly made a difference ahead of the vote and residents have continued to organize others over the last month.
It seems like it will be very difficult for Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and County Commissioners to reverse the vote of their own Zoning Adjustment board and circumvent the will of local residents.
Board of Zoning Adjustment District 2 Rep. Greg Jackson expressed concern about the OURM proposal during the March hearing and specifically referenced overwhelming public opposition from area residents.
Board of Zoning Adjustment Chair Zachary Seybold agreed with Rep. Jackson. Chair Seybold also stated he believed the special exemption being sought by OURM was “problematic as far as detrimental intrusion.” He further explained there was “no support and overwhelming opposition” to the OURM plans from the public. Seybold even ended his remarks stating “I’m sure there are other great locations.”
Ultimately, the majority of the Orange County Board of Zoning Adjustment agreed and voted to reject the Orlando Union Rescue Mission relocation proposal. Here are the public comments from local area residents, who also delivered more than 150 petitions from others in the community against the proposal.