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City Staff’s report recommends against permitting the City Walk shelter on Mahan Drive

Published: Feb. 27, 2021 at 4:02 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The Development Review Committee is set to review the permit for the City Walk shelter on Mahan Drive on Monday, March 8th. Reports from the City’s Growth Management Department staff and Planing Department staff say City Walk did not meet the required criteria and recommend the Committee deny the permit for the Type B Site Plan.

Growth Management Report

Growth Management’s 31-page report to the DRC includes summaries of public comment received by City Staff.

The report details findings based on specific City code requirements, and an analysis of the minimum criteria needed for approval of the site plan.

In the report, Growth Management staff says the applicant did not adequately demonstrate that the proposed facility would not create or cause a private nuisance to adjacent properties.

Staff writes that information compiled from TPD reports and contacts to surrounding property owners determined that the facility would create a “private nuisance” to adjacent properties if approved.

It also says the facility has already been a private nuisance since its establishment.

The report cites incidents of harassment, loitering, and disturbing the peace at surroundings businesses, as well as TPD records of individuals entering the residential neighborhood and asking for money.

TPD says none of those problems existed prior to December 2020.

Staff says another piece of criteria left unmet is adequate security and supervision.

“While staff concurs that the security measures in place are likely sufficient for internal security of the site for the proposed number of residents, the applicant has not shown that these measures are adequate to address the needs of the residents of adjacent lands and their property,” the report says. “This finding is based on the security incidents expressed by adjacent and area properties.”

Additionally, staff says City Walk did not demonstrate that the facility would not “adversely impact existing uses within the area or change the character of the area.”

Three criteria that were met by City Walk’s application: the site is easily accessible to mass transit, the facility and design “reasonable accommodate” the projected capacity, and the facility and features are compatible with the general architecture theme, appearance, and representative building types.

Planning Department Report

The Planning Department’s 11 page report says the security plan does not address the needs of the surrounding community and says the complaints and evidence from nearby businesses and residents indicate the shelter is a “private nuisance.”

The report includes a table using TPD data on calls for service at 1709 Mahan Drive within a .25 mile radius between 2013 and 2021.

The table shows a 44% increase in calls about disorderly conduct, a 65% increase in calls regarding a mentally ill person, and a 141% increase in calls about a suspicious person, incident, or vehicle.

In addition, 40 days in 2021 have seen an increase of 2809% for calls regarding trespass warnings issued and 2138% for calls about trespassing.

A second table details calls for service within a 0.5 mile radius. It says there are “notable and substantial” increases in assault, burglary, disorderly conduct, resisting law enforcement, theft, and suspicious persons.

The Planning Department recommends denial of the Type B site plan.

Public comment

According to Growth Management staff’s report, before City Walk filed the application, staff received 72 comments in opposition and 5 comments in support.

The report says the top five concerns included an increase in non-residents walking through neighborhoods, proximity to schools and daycares, and a decrease in the sense of safety. The top three reasons in favor of the shelter were providing services, shelter, and compassion for those in need.

After City Walk submitted its application, City Staff received more public comments: 42 in opposition (including a petition with 362 signatures), and 12 comments in support.

Concerns expressed in post-permit submittal comments included a lack of permitting for the shelter, a change in the character and safety along Mahan Drive, and the impact on businesses.

Supporters’ top reasons in favor of the shelter included providing services to those in need, which has increased during the pandemic, and no impact to the surrounding properties.

According to the Planning Department’s report, 88 concerns were recorded in responses from nearby residents between January and February. The number includes 6 complaints of panhandling, 7 complaints of safety, 6 complaints of sexual offenders or predators, and 7 complaints of urinating or defecating.

What’s Next

According to the City, the staff reports and comments have been provided to the City Walk applicant. Staff will discuss the comments and findings with them at a Post Application meeting on Monday March 1st at 1:30 PM. The meeting is public, but does not include comment time. It will be held virtually.

After that meeting, the Development Review Committee meets on Monday, March 8th at 9:00 a.m. It will be held in person and virtually, and there will be opportunities for public comment.

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