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City OKs permit for ‘House of Hope’

 

SARAH LOWERY

Staff Writer

 

The Lincolnton City Council has approved a request from Gaylain’s House of Hope for a conditional-use permit to operate a group home for women in recovery from substance abuse.

The unanimous vote came during the council’s monthly meeting Thursday night.

The two-story frame house, roughly 4,000 square feet, is owned by St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and is located on the south side of McBee Street. It was previously approved for similar use in 1993 and 2006 but has since ceased operation, having last been used as a temporary homeless shelter.

Up to eight residents and an on-site manager will reside in the home.

It is surrounded by several single-family residences, a park and the Pathways/A Place to Grow facility, all of which, including the subject property, are zoned residential-office. There is no plan for exterior improvements to the site.

During a public hearing on the request, a nearby resident expressed his concern with the possible effect the home could have on adjoining property, saying he believed it would have a negative impact. He also noted that children play in the park and asked whether the home was worth the risk of potential problems.

He also requested that a privacy fence, mentioned in the application, be a definite requirement should council members approve the permit.

The Rev. Miles Smith of St. Luke’s also spoke during the hearing and said the church had a verbal agreement to put the fence in, which they would honor. Other representatives from the church said they had received no complaints in the past and would “remain good neighbors.”

Women will come to the group home through a referral-based program, with a typical stay of six months. Residents will not have their own vehicles at the site and will instead be transported by van.

Council member Dr. Les Cloninger made the motion to approve the request, also stipulating in his wording that the fence be erected between the adjacent property and the house. Both the Lincolnton Planning Board and staff had also recommended approval of the application, subject to required conditions.

Also at Thursday’s meeting, council members unanimously approved a request, following a public hearing, from Harvest Presbyterian Church for a conditional-use permit to expand its existing church facility, located on the west side of Lithia Inn Road. The church is planning to construct a 1,960-square-foot addition.

Pastor Dion Marshall addressed the council during the public hearing, saying he felt like the church had “been an eyesore for long enough.” He noted that the addition will basically be a new entrance for the building.

Council members also unanimously approved three proposed amendments to the city’s Code of Ordinances – Fee Schedule. The first of the changes is regarding utility deposits. Council members discussed at previous meetings allowing renters having 24 months of “good” payment history with the city to be exempt.

Mayor John Gilleland requested that “good” be defined in the amendment language so as to be more objective. City Manager Jeff Emory said he would add a line into the draft specifying that a “good” payment history mean the renters had no late payments or default fees on their utility bills.

Other approved amendments were regarding a commercial lighting rebate and an extra facilities charge pertaining to lighting at the Lincolnton campus of Gaston College, which also required a contract between the city and Lincoln County to be adopted.

Council members also scheduled their first budget work session for 6:30 p.m. April 16 and presented a requested proclamation to students from Lincolnton High School recognizing “Earth Hour” in Lincolnton on March 31 from 8:30-9:30 p.m.

 

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