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Zoning hearing on proposed homeless shelter is continued

Published November 27. 2019 11:18AM

A zoning hearing for a proposed homeless shelter in Nesquehoning was continued following a brief meeting Tuesday evening.

Attorney Kim Roberti, representing Family Promise of Carbon County, in front of a standing-room-only crowd, requested the hearing be continued so the organization can file an amendment to the application, which called for a special exception use and variance for the property at 140 W. Mill St. The property, the former St. Francis of Assisi church and rectory, is being purchased by Family Promise to use as the new location for the shelter it has operated for a decade, and expand services to homeless women.

Roberti said the continuance request would amend the application to just a special use exception, but what was advertised was for a use variance.

After some discussion by the board and board attorney Michael Greek, the parties agreed to continue the meeting until 6 p.m. on Dec. 17 at the borough hall, 114 W. Catawissa St.

At that time, residents and parties both for and against the project can testify before the board.

Last week, a handful of residents approached Nesquehoning Borough Council over the proposed shelter, raising their concerns about the clientele who would be served, the impact on the surrounding neighbors and the future of the borough with the shelter.

The plans for Family Promise of Carbon County moving into the former church were made public last month when the Carbon County Commissioners held a hearing regarding shifting $50,000 from the 2018 Community Development Block Grant project fund for Banks Township to Family Promise for help in the purchase of the former St. Francis of Assisi Church and rectory, located at 140 W. Mill St. in Nesquehoning. The cost for the property is $80,000.

Tina Dowd, founding board member and current co-board chair of Family Promise, said last month that the mission of the organization is to help families, and soon single women, who have found themselves homeless.

According to the organization’s website, “Family Promise of Carbon County is a public charity whose mission is to provide temporary shelter, meals and fellowship in order to meet the basic needs of families without permanent housing in Carbon County and the surrounding communities.

“Families are educated, encouraged and empowered to become self-sufficient by support from the faith community and other local community resources. … Support organizations (churches, community groups, scouts, etc.) provide additional volunteers and financial donations to the mission.”

In other zoning matters, the application for Anna Nortesano, who was requesting a special use exception and variance to use a residence at 459 E. Railroad St. as a bed-and-breakfast was withdrawn by the applicant. In a letter from the applicant, she cites distance to Jim Thorpe as the reason for not moving forward with the project.

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