The Hastings City Council Tuesday approved an emergency and transitional group housing ordinance in most zoning districts near the city’s downtown by special use permit. Planning Commision Chairman David Hatfield was at the meeting, as he was at the last meeting, to answer questions.
Originally to permit temporary housing for qualified inmates being released from Barry County Jail, it was broadened by the commission to include other forms of temporary group housing for others facing other needs or emergencies, Hatfield said at the first reading.
With special uses, the commission can establish conditions and controls for each facility and its use.
Hatfield said as they were working on the ordinance since the original request from Judge Amy McDowell about six months ago, they were creating too many specifics, so developed general guidelines.
As a special use, they can look at specifics on any proposal. Each applicant will be specifically judged on the merits of the specifics by the planning commission, he said.
Rebecca Harvey of McKenna provided a memo addressing several of the concerns which came to light for the second reading.
Councilwoman Brenda McNabb-Stange, who questioned the special use procedures at the first reading, said she appreciated the information provided.”It was just what I wanted.”
Councilman Don Bowers asked Hatfield said there are all kinds of former inmates and asked if neighbors would be notified if a child molester was moving in. There public hearings as one of the steps by the commission, but safeguards are in place to prevent anyone that would not be compatible with the neighborhood, Hatfield said.
“The commission will look at every proposal … and if they propose a certain population, they can’t change it after they get in” he said. City Manager Jeff Mansfield pointed out there were many other uses and types who might apply, but the commission will put conditions on each one.
Councilwoman Therese Maupin-Moore asked how they would verify compliance; Hatfield responded: “We do whatever we need to; we have several ways to oversee.”
Some of the special use provisions are to maintain the appearance of a one-family dwelling with nothing to identify it as transitional or emergency housing, approval by a building inspector, no activities that would be detrimental to neighbors, the right to review on-site management, the number of people to occupy the dwelling at one time, the size of rooms, and all applications are submitted to the police and fire departments for review and comment.