Frederick residents expressed resentment at a potential change that would allow a nonprofit to have a permanent homeless shelter on the city’s main street.

A unanimous vote by the city’s Planning Commission to recommend rezoning of the building that houses the Frederick Community Action Agency at 100 S. Market St. to allow the permanent shelter was met with boos and meeting attendees repeating the phrase “Goodbye, Frederick.”

If ultimately approved by the Board of Aldermen, the property, which the FCAA currently operates as a transitional shelter, would be rezoned to allow the agency to offer permanent housing for the homeless. Currently, the shelter offers 14 bedrooms with 31 beds and nine cribs for homeless families and physically or mentally disabled adults.

The proposed rezoning would provide 14 or 15 bedrooms, including four or five larger bedrooms aimed at housing homeless couples. It would also fall under the institutional zoning designation, which means it allows public, private or nonprofit-owned areas such as hospitals, houses of worship, and religious or social missions.

At the heart of residents’ concern Monday was the future of the property and the city’s ability to keep the area safe. The packed house in the City Hall Boardroom offered countless examples of how they feel their neighborhood has been adversely affected by the presence of the homeless.

Brad Hoffman, who lives on South Market Street, argued that while he was familiar with the character of the neighborhood at the time he and his family moved into the property, the level of crime committed in and around 100 S. Market St. has only increased through the years.

“This summer has been the first time in my life I have ever been afraid to call the police or walk out my front door,” Hoffman said.

In the last two months, Hoffman has called the police about people drinking alcohol on the sidewalk in front of his house. He’s had to clean up their vomit, seen people sell drugs from his front stoop, and people overdose from his living room window, he said.

He added that he’s seen people urinate in plain view on Market Street and has been threatened with violence.

Hoffman’s comments were echoed by other neighborhood residents and business owners, with many saying that the area is one of the first things visitors see when they come to Frederick. Allowing the possibility of permanent housing at the agency, they said, would only exacerbate the issue of cleaning up the area for visitors and residents alike, and it would also promote a lack of safety in the community.

Mike Spurrier, executive director of the Community Action Agency, maintained that the rezoning would not add to the sect of perceived problem-makers downtown. Rather, he said, it would reduce the number of occupants per unit at the agency, citing that the maximum number of people able to use permanent supportive housing would be 20, whereas currently, the FCAA provides housing for 31 to 40 people.

Population growth, however, is not at the forefront of residents’ minds, said Jim Bauckman, who also spoke out Monday night against the proposed rezoning. Instead, he argued that the bigger issue is what the potential rezoning would mean in terms of cleaning up the neighborhood somewhere down the line.

“There’s a definite feeling that the input of the surrounding community is ignored and that the issues we face each day are blown out of proportion,” Bauckman said Tuesday. “The issues are real, and so is the frustration with behavior that surrounds the FCAA. ... How do we make the problems go away so that all of us can best benefit from the good work the city is doing to fight the problem of homelessness? With a change in zoning at this address, that sounds very difficult to achieve.”

Bauckman added that FCAA has not communicated with the neighborhood and doesn’t want make necessary changes to clean up the area.

“Mr. Spurrier always asks the community to reach out to him,” Bauckman said. “He is beholden to the city government and to the taxpayer; the burden of community outreach, stakeholder evaluation and planning is on him.”

Kelly Russell, who serves as both an alderwoman and a Planning Commission member, said that while she was unable to speak in detail about the situation because it’s an ongoing matter, she does appreciate the work the FCAA does for the community, saying that it “provides services to a wide range of people in the community and they do it very well.”

Alderman Roger Wilson, meanwhile, explained that until the issue comes to the board, he isn’t able to comment on what the best zoning for the property might be.

“We need to look at the implications that go along with switching the property to institutional zoning,” Wilson said. “I’m looking forward to continuing the discussion.”

Follow Colin McGuire on Twitter: @colinpadraic.

(24) comments

CharlesNelsonReilly

Ah, love it when the white limousine liberals virtue signal how open-minded and tolerant they are of everyone and everything.... and then show their true colors when it comes to a bunch of homeless people moving in next to them. When is the Candlelight vigil protest?

Cmcg

Wow, a lot of feel good 'we can make a difference' responses here. Go ahead make yourself feel better by rezoning this, I will be laughing when the crime continues to rise from that address.

duffy5x

Got it, you don't care about your fellow man.

CityBoy

Wow. Take a walk along the creek and open your eyes. If you conclude that there isn't a problem and it isn't contributed to by the location of FCAA then we have nothing to discuss. The market is responding.

Joeseamhead

I walk the creek several times a week and have no issues.

gardenwhimsey

With so many bars downtown, how can you prove the miscreants are homeless people? Frederick should stop promoting the bar & craft breweries atmosphere downtown. How do you know the violators are not just drunks drifting out of one of the numerous alcohol purveyors located in the downtown area? One of the NIMBYs said he knew of the reputation of the area before he bought the house, so why did he buy there?

Roboticbrady

If you weren't so scared of going out anywhere in public where you might cross paths with alcohol you would know who the homeless people are. There really aren't many 'drunks' out in down town that would ever be mistaken for a homeless person.



But then again, you would have to leave your apartment to see it.

SOMAJim

Live near the area being discussed (All Saints and Market) and watch. This is not traffic from Downtown businesses.

Joeseamhead

I walk the creek several times a week and also frequent several of the breweries and have never had any issues with either one, though anywhere alcoholic beverages are served can have issues. So far, the breweries seem to have a little different breed of drinkers.

That guy

So let me get this straight - people don't want to take steps toward addressing the homeless problem...because it will make the homeless problem WORSE?



Why do you think people become homeless? Why do you think they STAY homeless? If people don't have anywhere to lay their head every night, what hope do they have of getting clean, improving their lives, rising from poverty? When hopelessness becomes your whole life, crime and drugs become much more appealing. If you offer someone a step toward stability, a chance at a better life, they're more likely to be willing and able to escape their situation.



I can understand the NIMBY reaction, but this facility already exists and is a known landmark in the community. Trying to establish something similar elsewhere in a new location which may not be accessible to the current population that needs it would prove ineffectual in solving the problem. Work with the tools that are already in place.

RankStranger

Are we supposed to draw a line from Mr. Hoffman's comments above that the drugs being sold, alcohol being consumed on his sidewalk, overdoses, and vomit requiring clean up was all the result of homeless individuals in the area? I love Frederick, but the scapegoating of "others" - particularly homeless individuals - is staggering. I live downtown, and I would welcome this property being rezoned to offer full-time shelter for folks in a predicament that NONE of us want to imagine befalling ourselves. I would imagine that having a full-time shelter would also mean additional services could be offered to individuals who need it...maybe even be the push needed to get some of them back on their feet.



Until there is EVIDENCE that the increase in crime downtown is being perpetuated - or is related to the homeless population in the area, then I think it is best to espouse unfounded theories rooted in personal anecdotes. I couldn't imagine living my daily life so AFRAID of so many things.

SOMAJim

There is a direct correlation to 293 crimes committed (2017-2019) to 22 individuals that use the 100 S Market St address as their primary address–not necessarily to the homeless population. Calls are up in the neighborhood because of behavior attributed to many people who hang around the FCAA and benefit from their services. If you need more evidence, it's all there. Request it from the Frederick Police Department, read the Frederick News Post, and check out the releases that Frederick offers regarding crime.



Are these individuals representative of the whole population served by the FCAA? Of course not. These individuals are, however, the first thing that prospective business owners, residents, and tourists see when they enter the city. The services provided by the FCAA are not strictly provided to homeless individuals. You are the one directly tying the rising crime issue into a homeless issue. Association of all of these crimes to the homeless population served by the FCAA may be off base and could be clarified by Mr. Spurrier if he ever intends to



How should Downtown residents respond to the multitude of crimes committed by individuals associated with the FCAA? If you truly believe there is no culpability on the part of the FCAA, I invite you to suggest a suitable location in your neighborhood for these services to be offered. It would free up a wonderful historic building for development and use by the community to enrich the city.



This is not a matter of "us" and "them" with regard to a population of homeless people served by the efforts of the FCAA. This a community response to criminal activity, the import of individuals from other counties and states seeking Frederick's valuable services, and the lack of commitment that the FCAA has to the safety and cleanliness of our neighborhood and the interests of all of the community's stakeholders.



The City of Frederick should consider a larger policy discussion about homelessness and work toward effective change rather than amend zoning in a way that limits future options.

hgiii123

I don't hear anyone suggesting we not support those less fortunate. Frederick has a reputation for being a very giving place (perhaps part of the problem). The question is "where is the most optimum place to deliver services to them." If you have walked downtown of late, particularly along Carroll Creek linear park, then you must see the increase in vagrancy, panhandling, and public displays of inappropriate behavior. We have a problem, mission control! The vibrancy, and attractiveness, of our downtown is at risk by this element, for residents, businesses, and visitors alike. Perhaps their presence downtown is incompatible with what we've spent many years and dollars building. Mr. Spurrier always cites the increases in number of meals and people served, year-in-year-out, as if this is a success. I submit it represents a failure to address the root cause (in a booming economy), and perhaps he's promoting his services too much and attracting clientele from outside the Frederick County area (more clients = more local/State/Federal $, building an industry etc.). Relocate the FCAA, and perhaps other service delivery organizations, to a new campus that delivers one-stop-shopping for those in need, thereby providing superior services to them, while removing them from downtown, and repurposing another building(s) back into the tax base and contributing to other uses complimentary to the vision of a vibrant, SAFE, clean, and prosperous downtown. Just a thought.

sevenstones1000

What would Jesus do?

public-redux

Magic?

MD1756

Possibly nothing but recite a parable. He didn't end homelessness, poverty, wars, starvation, etc. in his time. At the time, his impact was limited to a relatively small geographic area. To imply that a government should consider WWJD would be eliminating the separation of church and state. It is possible to be moral or humane without bringing religion into the equation. You wouldn't want to offend agnostics and atheists would you?

public-redux

Or Jews, Muslims, Pastafarians, Satanists, Hindus, Buddhists, Pagans, etc., etc., etc.

MD1756

[thumbup]

Crab0721

Have they done anything with the old Social Services office because that would be a great spot. It is right across from the Transit station and within walking distance to the Community Action Agency.

Crusty Frederick Man 64

Just think folks this is the same director that wanted to stop a house being built beside his just a while back saying it would destroy the neighborhood and is saying this homeless shelter will not have an effect on the neighborhood. How ironic is this.

FyremanEd

Make the old mall on Rt. 40 the new center/homeless city. Add all the amenities like a simulated Carroll Creek, bus station, Diggs Park, mini-hospital and small forest with tents so they can feel at home. Lock all the door and the problem is solved.


Thewheelone

Your compassion is overwhelming, FyremanEd[ohmy]

girlpolitic

Best location for permanent housing would be in the 200 Block of College Avenue where Zimmerman's Florist use to be. Great location: near Baker Park with easy access to Talley recreation center; Baker Park for relaxed atmosphere with tennis courts, Hood College for educational opportunities. Easy walking distance to access major Transit Routes. What is not to like?

KR999

The 200 block of College Avenue? [scared] The NIMBYs would panic!!! It was bad enough with the McMansion over on Magnolia!

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