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Hosanna House Zoning Hearing is Thursday

Catholic Charities of Baltimore officials will ask for several special exceptions so they can proceed with the Edgemere proposal.

Hosanna House Zoning Hearing is Thursday

A zoning hearing for a proposed permanent housing program for the homeless, planned for the Edgemere community, will be held Thursday in Towson.

The meeting will be held at 10 a.m. in room 205 of the Jefferson Building, 105 W. Chesapeake Ave.

Catholic Charities of Baltimore has proposed using the former St. Luke's Catholic Church's convent on Lodge Farm Road as a permanent housing program for 14 homeless individuals.

The proposal has met with considerable opposition from area residents, who do not want such a program on the same campus as a preschool and St. Luke's Place, a housing complex for senior citizens.

Originally proposed for men of all ages and then men ages 60 and older, Catholic Charities officials have once again changed the scope of the proposed program.

In a notice to St. Luke's Place residents dated Jan. 16, Catholic Charities officials announced that the program would proceed with the focus of serving "vulnerable adult women."

"Applicants for residency in the building will be subject to criminal background checks which will include screening for sex offenses," the notice stated. "The Baltimore County Zoning Hearing for the projected change in use remains scheduled for Jan. 31, 2013. We will notify you of any changes as they occur."

Catholic Charities officials are asking for several variances from the property's current zoning, including the requests to use the convent building as a boarding or rooming house and an exception from the rule that the program's participants would meet the definition of a "family."

Officials are also prepared to provide only six parking spaces instead of the required 16, and they want those six spaces to come from the 70 spaces already allotted to the senior housing complex.

Area residents say that, in addition to concerns about the safety and well-being of senior citizens and small children, the placement of the program in the peninsular community without public transportation makes no sense.

In a couple of public meetings held so far, residents have said without services like transportation, local jobs, job counseling and training and similar programs, Hosanna House participants would have to be transported to all programs and services offered to participants.

"It makes no sense to have that here in our community," one resident said at a previous meeting. "Why not have the shelter closer to where all of these services will actually be provided?"

For more information about the zoning hearing, call 410-887-3391.

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