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Planning Commission OKs Church Shelter

January 16, 1998|LISA ADDISON

The Rev. Wiley S. Drake is one step closer to adding a 52-bed permanent homeless shelter to his First Southern Baptist Church after plans were approved this week by the Planning Commission.

"I was ecstatic," Drake said. "After more than a year of working toward this, we walked out of there with a 6-0 vote."

Neighbors of the church have fought the proposal in the past and have 10 days to appeal.

The City Council is expected to review the construction plans next month. If approved, construction could start in June.

The action comes after a lengthy battle between Drake and the city, including a trial last year in which Drake and his church were convicted of four misdemeanor counts for letting homeless people sleep in a patio area and camp in the parking lot. In September, a judge placed the church on probation for three years and ordered it to comply with city codes.

A municipal court ruled last week that Drake and his church have taken reasonable steps to comply with city building codes.

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