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Commission delays discussion on rezoning site to allow homeless shelter


Des Moines’ Plan and Zoning Commission on Thursday postponed until February a public hearing on a request to rezone property at 3800 E. Douglas Ave. to allow a homeless center to open on the site.

Hope Ministries has an agreement to buy the property where the former Douglas Elementary School had been located. A church now owns the land.

The nonprofit group wants to open a homeless shelter for women and children on the site. Hope’s current facility for women and children only can provide beds for about 35 people at a time. However, the group gets more than 100 calls a month from women who need a safe place to stay, a spokesperson has said.

Area residents have expressed concerns that the proposed center would lower the neighborhood’s property values. Residents have also raised questions about whether homeless men and teenage boys would eventually be served at the center.

Chris Pose, a Des Moines attorney representing Hope Ministries, told the commission that the group earlier this week sent a packet with 12 pages of information about the proposed center to residents who live within 250 feet of the property.

“It’s only fair that they have more time to look at it,” Pose told the commission. 

He also said that Hope Ministries did not have plans to schedule another neighborhood meeting about the proposal. 

Dozens of people earlier this month attended a meeting that at times turned contentious. Des Moines City Councilwoman Linda Westergaard had asked Hope Ministries to delay its request for rezoning until after more information was provided to neighbors. 

The commission voted unanimously to postpone until Feb. 6 a public hearing on rezoning the property. Hope Ministries had requested that the property’s zoning be changed to a planned unit development from single-family residential.

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