Rescue mission continues their pursuit of expansion into Springfield.


SPRINGFIELD — While Springfield City Commissioners consider approval of a development order to allow the Panama City Rescue Mission to expand its Bethel Village program, an underlying concern keeps coming to the surface — that the Springfield location could look like downtown.

To allay the fear, the Rev. Billy Fox, executive director of the Rescue Mission, told commissioners in a written document the organization committed “as a condition of this development order, to never allow adult males to reside on this campus. Also, that there is no intent or desire whatsoever to open or transfer the Rescue Mission to this sight (sic).”

The city is considering approval of a development order for a proposed plan to add four single-family units and one dormitory to the existing residential facility at 2533 Transmitter Road. Long-term plans call for 12 additional residential units and a 10,000-square-foot clubhouse.

Commissioners discussed the plans during a Monday workshop and will vote on whether to issue the development order during their next regular meeting, Dec. 5 at 5:30 p.m.

Prior to the meeting, the Rescue Mission is expected to provide a traffic count for the current location so the city can anticipate the expected impact of the expansion and also determine the best place for an entrance into the property. Fox said the commission can pick the location of the driveway and they will accommodate it.

If approved, the development order would be valid for six months.

Because the Rescue Mission lost $250,000 in grant funding due to project delays, Fox said the organization does not have all the money necessary to complete the first phase of the expansion project.

“As people of faith, we plan and allow the Lord to provide for us,” Fox said.

He said he doesn’t want to delay the project any more because stalling could result in the loss of even more revenue.

If the development order expired, the Rescue Mission could file for an extension or let it lapse and start the process over later.

In April 2010, the City Commission denied a development order for expansion. The Rescue Mission appealed the decision to Circuit Court and in February Judge Michael Overstreet determined there wasn’t sufficient cause to deny the development order and remanded the application back to the city for another hearing or issuance of a development order.

The City Commission took the issue up at its May meeting, but commissioners posed questions about the application and the decision was delayed, with engineers for the Rescue Mission and the city expected to address concerns. Both sides suggested the other was at fault for the delay.

While the discussion Monday was primarily limited to whether the development order meets city code requirements, there was some philosophical discussion about whether the Mission should expand the program.

“The more we build the more we get,” Commissioner John Gipson said of building more resources to help the homeless. “We’re making more room for them to multiply.”

Fox replied that having more services does not attract homeless people to the area.

“They didn’t come down here because we have the best stew in town,” he said.

Mr. Fox is delusional if he thinks that building more infrastructure does not expand the volumes of  homeless and vagrants. It is proven fact that anyone in our community can see by spending just thirty minutes  in the area surrounding the mission.It is shameful that Mr. Fox will hide behind Christian double talk by making comments like “As people of faith, we plan and allow the Lord to provide for us” while turning to the legal system to sue a locality when he doesn’t get his way. The citizens of Springfield and Port St Joe have seen the effects of the mission in Panama City and have enough sense to realize that a similar facility will have a negative impact on their community. Thank you to Commissioner  Rev. John Gipson, Pastor of The Church of God in Christ Antioch Church for recognizing toxic impact of this facility and standing up for the tax paying citizens of Springfield.

Read more: http://www.newsherald.com/articles/springfield-98562-bethel-commissioners.html#ixzz1f4BAUeFR

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