The Taft Warming Shelter group has submitted their response to Lincoln City City Hall’s claim that their warming shelter is illegal. A notice of violation was issued by the city ten days ago citing land use laws that currently state that there are no provisions to approve a warming shelter at the old Taft Fire Hall because it doesn’t have the right zoning. The warming shelter responded and everyone is awaiting Planning Director Richard Townsend’s assessment of their reply. Townsend was unavailable for comment as of 5pm this evening.
There has been some talk about Townsend being able to allow warming shelter operations if temperatures get below 40 degrees during the winter, thereby triggering an emergency that may provide political or legal “cover” for such use. Looking at the extended weather forecast for Lincoln City there are no forecasts for the next two weeks that predict “sub 40” degree weather except for January 23rd and then it’s 39 degrees. But of course weather forecasts change nearly day to day.
So, we’ll have to wait to see what Townsend does with the warming shelter’s response to the rules of the city when it comes to use of the old Taft Fire Hall. Townsend’s stated preference has been for the warming shelter to apply for a land use change for the property. But that process would take well over a month to accomplish. By then it would be toward the end of February when temperatures start rising a bit as we head into Spring.
Not only was the warming shelter non-profit given the notice of violation but Mayor Don Williams also was sent a copy, since he owns the building. Williams says he negotiated a rental agreement with the warming shelter non-profit after the city awarded the non-profit $45,000 to establish a warming shelter…an award that he voted for along with the rest of the city council. Williams says his rental agreement with the non-profit was set up after the council voted to award the funds to the non-profit.