County OKs res­o­lu­tion for use of State Street site

Names Ch­ester­wye grant sub-re­cip­i­ent

Record Observer - - News - By MIKE DAVIS mdavis@kibay­times.com

CENTREVILLE — The Queen Anne’s County Com­mis­sion­ers signed a res­o­lu­tion in a 3-2 vote no­ti­fy­ing the state of its in­ter­est in mov­ing for­ward with a pro­posed four-bed home for the Ch­ester­wye Cen­ter Inc. in Stevensville, nam­ing it a sub-re­cip­i­ent to a grant dur­ing its Tues­day, April 26, meet­ing in Centreville. Com­mis­sion­ers Jim Mo­ran and Robert Buckey did not sign the let­ter.

Be­fore the vote, com­mu­nity mem­bers were given a fi­nal chance to speak on the pro­posed pro­ject at 325 State St. Mike Clark, di­rec­tor of the county’s depart­ment of com­mu­nity ser­vices, said the Com­mu­nity Devel­op­ment Block Grant pro­gram re­quires both a com­mu­nity hear­ing and meet­ing. The com­mu­nity hear­ing was held at the Percy Thomas Se­nior Cen­ter in Stevensville on April 13, where res­i­dents had the op­por­tu­nity to hear from Ch­ester­wye and county of­fi­cials about the pro­ject.

Mike Ranelli, a Stevensville res­i­dent who op­posed plans to build a home­less shel­ter on the prop­erty, thanked the com­mis­sion­ers, county staff, Ch­ester­wye of­fi­cials and the Hous­ing Author­ity for their work in find­ing a dif­fer­ent use for the site.

“I’d just like to say a wel­come to Ch­ester­wye,” Ranelli said. “I think this house is a great fit for the com­mu­nity as planned. It looks beau­ti­ful and we look for­ward to wel­com­ing our new neigh­bors.”

Stevensville res­i­dent Sharon Har­low ap­plauded Mo­ran and Buckey for rec­og­niz­ing the need to find so­lu­tions for the home­less pop­u­la­tion as well as the needs of other com­mu­nity mem­bers.

“We must move for­ward with some kind of plan to meet the needs of our home­less pop­u­la­tion,” she said. “It’s im­per­a­tive that we rec­og­nize this pop­u­la­tion ex­ists. They at­tend our schools and our churches, they work in our busi­nesses; they’re usu­ally just down on their luck for a very short pe­riod of time and they need a roof over their head.”

At the present, Har­low said, this is a more “in-need pop­u­la­tion” that the county has no re­sources to aid.

Mo­ran, who thanked Ch­ester­wye for the work it does sup­port­ing adults with in­tel­lec­tual and de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties, said de­spite his sup­port of the non­profit that “this is a trav­esty” be­cause the prop­erty should be a home­less shel­ter. Through com­mu­nity up­roar last spring and an even­tual dis­agree­ment be­tween the county and Haven Min­istries Inc. — the non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion that op­er­ated a tran­si­tional shel­ter in the fa­cil­ity — about se­cu­rity stip­u­la­tions in a Mem­o­ran­dum of Un­der­stand­ing, the pro­ject was called off.

But be­cause the county re­ceived money from the state through a CDBG grant and had used por­tions of the $757,284 it re­ceived for ar­chi­tec­tural draw­ings and en­gi­neer­ing for the shel­ter, the state told the county to find a new user that fits the re­quire­ments of CDBG pro­gram and to send money back that was used for ren­der­ings.

The county has spent $186,377.18 of the grant and has $670,781.12 re­main­ing to con­struct a four-bed­room, three-bath, 3,2100 square­foot home to house four in­di­vid­u­als.

The CDBG funds must be used to ben­e­fit low and mod­er­ate in­come house­holds, aid in the pre­ven­tion or elim­i­na­tion of slums and blight and meet other com­mu­nity devel­op­ment needs of an ur­gent na­ture, stated in the fed­eral Hous­ing Com­mu­nity Devel­op­ment Act of 1974.

“We’re here now and this is great, but I think how we got here was a mis­take,” Mo­ran said. “I think the plan­ning that went into eight years and then what came about in the last few months of a sit­u­a­tion with the home­less shel­ter and with this block grant and hands that got in there, it sick­ens me.”

Buckey said Ch­ester­wye was a great or­ga­ni­za­tion, but the rea­son he voted against the or­ga­ni­za­tion mov­ing into the prop­erty was be­cause of a gen­eral hous­ing is­sue through­out the county. Buckey said af­ter dis­cus­sions with the Hous­ing Author­ity months ago and hear­ing about the “backup log,” he could not vote in fa­vor of the prop­erty’s fu­ture use.

“There’s a lot of peo­ple that don’t have a place to live,” Buckey said. “There’s a wait­ing list, and we had this house sit­ting there that, again, could have been used for a sin­gle­fam­ily, a mother and fa­ther and kids and so forth.”

Com­mis­sioner Mark An­der­son blamed the pro­ject fall­ing through on Haven Min­istries turn­ing down the shel­ter MOU.

“This is an op­por­tu­nity to build a state-of-the ar t fa­cil­ity for a great or­ga­ni­za­tion, one that has needs, and I think it is a use­ful pur­pose that we get the grant moved to take care of that need,” An­der­son said. “We have sup­port from the com­mu­nity, which did not ex­ist for the other cir­cum­stance, and we have a need that we are sup­ply­ing .... It sounds like a win-win to me.”

Clark said the signed res­o­lu­tions to date have been sent to the Depart­ment of Hous­ing and Com­mu­nity Devel­op­ment, which pro­vided the grant, and are await­ing an ap­proval let­ter. Once an ap­proval let­ter is re­ceived the county can move for­ward to spend money from the grant on ar­chi­tec­tural draw­ings and en­gi­neer­ing.

Clark said staff are keen to sal­vage some of the de­signs from the pre­vi­ously pro­posed pro­ject to be used in the cur­rent draw­ings to save money.

“We’re go­ing to look at it like it’s a new pro­ject,” Clark said in ref­er­ence to the pre­vi­ous prop­erty plans and the co­in­cid­ing com­mu­nity in­put. “We’re just go­ing to kind of start from when­ever we get the award let­ter ap­proval from Depart­ment of Hous­ing and Com­mu­nity Devel­op­ment ... we’re go­ing to just like kind of start a new pro­ject and move for­ward.”

County Ad­min­is­tra­tor Gregg Todd said the county hopes to have build­ing plans fi­nal­ized and bids for con­struc­tion com­pleted by late sum­mer or early fall.

Fol­low Mike Davis on Twit­ter: @ mike_k­ibay­times.

PHO­TOS BY MIKE DAVIS

County res­i­dent Sharon Har­low thanked the Ch­ester­wye Cen­ter Inc. for its work in the com­mu­nity but raised con­cerns about hous­ing prob­lems in gen­eral through­out the county. Har­low said the prop­erty should be used as a home­less shel­ter.

Mike Ranelli, a Stevensville res­i­dent who was vo­cal about pre­vi­ous plans for the 325 State St. prop­erty, gave his ap­proval of Ch­ester­wye Cen­ter Inc. op­er­at­ing out of the fa­cil­ity.

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