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Bradenton City Council Votes to Show Opposition to Expansion of Homeless Shelter


BRADENTON - The expansion of the Turning Points homeless shelter, located in the Bill Galvano One Stop Center in Bradenton, was the cause of lengthy debate at Wednesday's city council meeting.

Councilman Bemis Smith, who brought up the issue during Council Reports, was of the view that the legality of the special use permit given to the shelter for the expansion's was at the least, highly questionable. 

City Attorney Bill Lisch, who had looked into the issue per Smith's request at the previous regular council meeting, advised that the expansion is completely legal. "It's a totally separate piece of property," he said, explaining that as the new parcel was separate from the original, expansion zoning laws have no bearing on its use.

Even though the new parcel is physically joined to the original property, Lisch insisted that because the land was acquired after the original property was developed, the new parcel would be considered a separate property. 

 "If I've got a convenience store with gas pumps, and want to buy the land next door to me, and I want to put a convenience store on one side and gas pumps on the other side, that that would be an acceptable accessory use (of the properties) and this council would have no say in that?" asked Smith.

"If (the owner of the original buys) the piece of property, (that can be done) ... it's a separate piece of property," Lisch said.

Noting that some studies have linked alcholism as one of the main drivers of homelessness, Smith said he was concerned about the growth of the shelter in consideration of its location in city's entertainment district.

Smith and Mayor Wayne Poston also said they wished that the council had been given the opportunity to vote on whether to approve the expansion in the first place.

The city's Planning and Community Development department, which authorized the expansion, had considered approval to be an administrative task instead of a governmental one at the time of approval.

In the end, Smith called for a motion simply for the council to express disapproval of the expansion. Citing Lisch's legal opinion on the matter before the motion was made, Smith said, "Since we have no ability to stop (the expansion), we still feel it is bad policy to put a homeless shelter adjacent to an entertainment district."

The vote passed unanimously.

Councilman Harold Byrd recommended that the council set up a workshop in the future with the Manatee County Commission regarding the area's growing homeless population.

"I think we need to have a discussion on how we're going to serve the homeless population in the future," said Byrd.


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