Traverse City Record-Eagle

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March 16, 2014

Safe Harbor submits formal proposal

TRAVERSE CITY — A sense of calm settled over Traverse City's Boardman neighborhood after organizers of a proposed emergency homeless shelter agreed their plan should be reviewed under the city's lengthy zoning process before city commissioners decide whether to embrace or reject a shelter.

Safe Harbor of Grand Traverse, Inc. recently submitted a formal request to the city to lease its warehouse on Wellington Street one block south of Eighth Street for 10 years with an additional five-year option beginning in August. But Christie Minervini, a Safe Harbor board member, said agency officials submitted the proposal just to complete that step.

They no longer expect city commissioners to take it up at a March 24 meeting.

"We are certainly not pushing it," Minervini said. "We want to follow the process"

A private meeting between Safe Harbor organizers and members of the Boardman Neighborhood Association -- combined with an acknowledged need for planning commission review -- let the air out of the emotional and divisive neighborhood debate, said Elizabeth Whelan, association president.

"Many of us felt it was kind of being pushed on a fast track and that caused a lot of frustration," Whelan said. "Things have largely calmed down. People were commenting on it every day and now it's just stopped."

Members of the city's housing and building committee will begin work on an ordinance to regulate and permit emergency shelters on Monday at 9 a.m. in the planning and engineering conference room on the second floor of the Governmental Center.

Minervini said Safe Harbor officials hope commissioners can deliver a final answer in June or July, but dates and times won't keep them readying their plans.

"We don't have a plan B so we are moving ahead as if this is happening, because we have to start fundraising," she said.

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