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qualify for a shelter facility, applicants will be required to provide an appropriate security plan for the facility, provide an impact study for the area surrounding the service site, including notification of any Neighborhood Housing Association among other conditions.

These licenses are only valid for 10 consecutive days and must be renewed. The City Manager reserves the right to revoke the permit if there is an event that threatens the safety, health, or welfare of the community.

The Advance reached out to each member of the Vidalia City Council concerning the proposed ordinance, and all had no comment and deferred to new City Manager Josh Beck.

The City Manager said the idea behind the proposed ordinance is to ensure that the homeless population is helped while maintaining the safety of the City’s citizens.

“We understand that there have been a few questions and concerns regarding the proposed homeless ordinance presented at the last council meeting,” Beck remarked. “We want to assure the entire community that the city understands the need to help the less fortunate.”

Beck stated that he has dealt with the homeless issue for over 14 years through his tenure with the Vidalia Housing Authority. “We are all called to help the poor, the less fortunate, and those in our community who find themselves in difficult circumstances,” he added. “While trying to serve the needy, we must attempt to keep the unintended consequences in mind. This ordinance attempts to address those unintended consequences and outlines the importance of strategically locating agencies that wish to serve this population in our community. The ability to help the less fortunate, while keeping other populations in the area safe is the City’s top priority.”

He went on to explain that several concerns regarding the permitting process had been shared by the public, but that the proposed permit approval process was put in place to ensure that the agencies who desired to help the homeless succeeded in their efforts. “The upfront qualifications listed in the proposed ordinance are designed to help ensure the long-term success of the program and to help minimize ordinance violations,” Beck said.

With regard to the cost of the conditional use permits, Beck said, “While some may have questions about the cost of the permit, the current fee structures have not been solidified.”

City Attorney Daniel O’Connor also addressed concerns regarding charging permitting fees to nonprofit organizations, specifically those classified as a 501c3 organization. “We are currently in a review process of the ordinance – that’s why we leave them on the table for a month so we can make sure that everything is enforceable. So, that is something we will look into,” he said.

The proposed ordinance is available for review at the Vidalia City Hall offices. The final vote on the ordinance will occur after its second reading at the next City Council meeting on Monday, July 8.

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