City Council heard hours of comments on a soup kitchen’s suitability in the downtown historic district, but will vote on the proposed site’s zoning, not the specific use.
The city law director and council members struggled to keep comments focused on the rezoning during an 80-minute public hearing Sept. 4 and another 80-minute committee discussion Sept. 6.
In the end, council’s law and ordinance committee voted 2-1 to recommend council approve rezoning the property at Mulberry and Water streets from office residential to B-1 business.
The vote could come as early as council’s Sept. 17 meeting.
The B-1 designation is needed for the St. Patrick Soup Kitchen to build a larger home and relocate from two blocks to the east.
Tim Davis, city planning and zoning manager, said a B-1 designation would exclude land uses such as housing but allow for retail uses, dry cleaning, lawnmower repair and veterinarian offices.
Most commenting said they support the soup kitchen, but opponents said the proposed location just east of the Public Square is not the proper place.
Greg Taylor of the soup kitchen board said the proposal was sparked by the ITW Food Equipment Group’s proposed donation of money and new commercial equipment. The amount of the gift has not yet been revealed, said Rick Cartwright of ITW.
Opponents include neighborhood residents and another nonprofit, Troy Community Works, which wants to redo the former Salvation Army Building nearby.
Ken and Rosaleen Rayman, who live a block away, said the neighborhood already has a number of social service agencies and they fear more would negatively impact existing homes.
“It’s not about money. It’s about people’s homes,” Rosaleen Rayman said. Opponents suggested if council approves the rezoning a referendum could be pursued.
Don Willis, Troy Community Works president, told council in comments and in a Sept. 5 letter the organization supports the soup kitchen but thinks relocating it as proposed “will impede further economic investment in the area.”