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Commission will consider permit for shelter

Planners in Prince Edward will hold a public hearing Tuesday at 7 p.m. to consider amendments to the county’s Zoning Ordinance to allow homeless shelters in areas of the county zoned A1, A2 or in Agricultural Conservation and Agricultural Residential districts by special use permit.

Planners will also hear from the Farmville Area Rescue Mission (FARM) which is seeking a special use permit to operate a homeless shelter.

The commission will offer recommendations on the zoning and permit matters, which will be forwarded to county supervisors in February for final consideration.

“I don’t think anybody is questioning the need, it’s just a matter of where it’s going to be located,” said FARM organizer Monroe Preston, who donated the house to use as a shelter.

“We have a place that’s ready to be used if the planning commission (and) board of supervisors give us the go-ahead,” Preston said.

The FARM has been operating for several years using churches to house homeless individuals for the night during winter months.

They opened a house in the county in the fall, and sought to begin operating as a year-round homeless shelter.

During the December board of supervisor’s meeting, FARM members were told the shelter would have to close until supervisors could adopt an amendment to the Zoning Ordinance. Supervisors said they would need to approve a special use permit for the shelter to operate.

Since the house has been closed, FARM has not been able to schedule with churches to house the homeless in Farmville overnight, Preston said.

“I think everybody was thinking, by this time, we would have something in place,” he said, explaining why churches have not been able to open their doors to the organization.

Preston is also chairman for The Salvation Army and has helped get at least four individuals to a Salvation Army shelter in Lynchburg during the last several days.
Since December, the group has sent letters to all neighboring properties of the proposed shelter, which is located at 3777 Back Hampden Sydney Road.

Preston said FARM organizers hosted an open house Monday at the shelter to show planners and supervisors the property and house.

Only a couple people showed up, Preston said, “because the roads were bad that day.”

The letters sent out shared the organization’s mission and intake process, urging recipients to approach them with questions.