Summerville Town Council votes to approve zoning change for women’s shelter despite some opposition

Local News

Summerville Town Council voted to rezone a property at its meeting on Tuesday, paving the way for a woman’s shelter to open in the town. However, some think it is not the right place for a shelter.

Council voted 4-3 to approve the zoning change for 700 Central Ave. Previously, the property was zoned for business use. Now, the new zoning will allow for mixed residential use.

The new zoning will enable Dorchester County Community Outreach (DCCO) to operate a small women’s shelter on the property. The nonprofit is currently in the process of buying the property.

Some residents and council members said it was not a good location for the shelter and were worried about its effect on property values, the potential for future zoning changes that could allow for duplexes and trailer parks and other issues.

DCCO currently operates Home of Home at 821 Central Ave, a men’s shelter less than 0.5 miles from the proposed women’s shelter location.

“We’ve been good neighbors at 821 Central [Ave]. Nobody has had any complaints about us,” said Marty Thomas, the president of DCCO. “We’re very careful in who we take in. We’re very selective.”

Some at the meeting said they were worried about opening a shelter up for women on Central Avenue, a busy thoroughfare in Summerville.

“It’s one thing where the men are further down,” said resident Elizabeth Tapp at the meeting. “They walk up and down the street… they’re men. For women to walk up and down the street, that’s another thing. It’s not a safe street. It’s not an appropriate building.”

Town councilwoman Christine Czarnik voted in favor of the change and said she saw it as acceptable rezoning.

“All of the debate was about the homeless shelter but the issue before council was a rezoning,” said Councilwoman Czarnik. “Which was not about one specific use but a group of uses that would be allowed under a particular zoning and it was appropriate.”

DCCO currently operates Home of Home at 821 Central Ave, a men’s shelter less than 0.5 miles from the proposed women’s shelter location.

“We’ve been good neighbors at 821 Central [Ave]. Nobody has had any complaints about us,” said Marty Thomas, the president of DCCO. “We’re very careful in who we take in. We’re very selective.”

Thomas said he expects the shelter to open within the next six months.

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