Morrisville Development Board Rejects Homeless Shelter Permit

Oct 23, 2015

The Morrisville Development Review Board Thursday rejected a zoning permit for a year-round homeless shelter.

Lamoille County is one of the few counties in the state without a homeless shelter and the Agency of Human Services had high hopes for the proposed 12-bed shelter.

The owner of the building had agreed to hook the space up to the town's sewer system and the site is within walking distance to social service agencies.

But the building is within the town's industrial zone and the DRB unanimously turned down the request.

AHS Field Director Christine Johnson says the DRB was supportive of the idea, and tried to find a way to allow the homeless shelter within the industrial zone.

But after reading through the zoning bylaw the board was not able to allow the shelter in the proposed building, Johnson said.

"It was really evident from the board last night, that the members of the board were expressing their own concern," Johnson said. "They really thanked us as a group for attending to this issue. I think people recognize that we are really trying to help solve this issue, not make it worse."

Advocates for opening Patchworks Place, a year-round homeless shelter in Morrisville, held a community forum earlier this month.

Johnson said the group that has been working on opening the shelter will to try to find another location.

"We are up against a tight winter deadline here." - Christine Johnson, Agency of Human Services field director

"We are up against a tight winter deadline here, but because the work continues I think we just continue to get ourselves ready and think about what that physical space is going to look like," Johnson said.

The Department for Children and Families wants to reduce its reliance on a motel voucher program that provides emergency housing in area motels.

In an attempt to address the rising cost of the program, which reached about $4.2 million statewide last year, DCF encouraged communities to open up discussions and try to find a more permanent solution to providing emergency housing in area motels.