An apparently little-known provision in the city zoning code has prompted a city zoning administrator to grant a variance to the Beacon Light Mission, a shelter for homeless men that wants to expand its Wilmington building.
The mission, at 525 N. Broad Ave., proposed a 2,700-square-foot addition that would enable it to increase its number of beds from 26 to 40, its dining room capacity from 40 to 80 and its chapel seats from 60 to 100. Mission administrators wanted to build the addition on their parking lot, and so they requested a variance allowing them to operate with only five parking spaces, down from what they thought was the legal limit of 35.
However, city Zoning Administrator Darryl Fisher, citing a year-old provision in the zoning code that applies to shelters for the homeless, ruled last week that the law requires the Beacon Light Mission to have only 10 parking spaces.
Fisher then granted a variance from the legal requirement of 10, permitting the mission to reduce its number of spaces to seven. He approved the dormitory and dining room additions as proposed, but limited the chapel expansion to 80 seats.
Local homeowners, who opposed the expansion because they feared it would attract more homeless men to Wilmington, say they are considering whether to appeal the decision.