Is this the voice of a “Christian organization”…”when we don’t get our way, we will just sue you”?

SPRINGFIELD — The Panama City Rescue Mission has filed an appeal of the city of Springfield’s decision to deny a development order for the expansion of its Bethel Village program.

In the appeal filed last week, the Rescue Mission claims the city failed to provide procedural due process and “failed to base its decision on competent substantial evidence” when it denied the development order in March.

The Rescue Mission is asking the court to direct the city to issue the development order.

Springfield City Attorney Kevin Obos said the city is waiting for an order from Circuit Court Judge Michael Overstreet to determine how long the city has to respond, but he said the city had grounds to deny the development order.

“We feel that they did have competent, substantial evidence before them that supported their decision at this hearing,” he said.

The Rescue Mission has spent years attempting to obtain a development order for the expansion of Bethel Village.

The development order was for one large residential structure that could accommodate 28 people and four cottages that could house eight to 10 people. The expansion would allow additional services to be provided at the site. The downtown Panama City location would be changed to an all-male facility, and females and their children up to age 12 would receive services in Springfield.

The organization applied for a development order in 2010, but it was denied several months later after a public hearing. That decision was appealed and in February 2011 Overstreet remanded the matter back to the City Commission for another hearing or for issuance of a development order.

In his decision, Overstreet wrote the commission “failed to provide any factual basis for their decision.”

After the public hearing, Springfield city commissioners said they were confident this time their decision was valid because it was based on fact, including the testimony of Police Chief Phillip Thorne.

Thorne said he believes there will be an increased strain on police officers and firefighters if the facility expands, and a larger number of residents coupled with a change in why they are at the facility likely would lead to an increase in calls for service from the police and fire departments. The city’s fire department responds to all emergency medical calls.

In its appeal, the Rescue Mission argued the decision was based on “speculative, general statements that this court has already determined was an improper basis” for denial.

The Rescue Mission also argued it was entitled to be informed of all the facts used for the city to reach its decision but was not.

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1 Comment

  1. Mary Smith

     /  July 4, 2012

    Springfield Police were called to Bethel Village over the weekend of June 30 for a drug related incident. Arrests were made, one person was transported to the hospital in an ambulance. The SP are still looking for the person who allegedly tossed the drugs over the fence to a resident who then shared the stash with other residents. Tuesday Ali Helgoth at the News Herald was notified of this potential story. Haven’t seen anything in the paper yet….what a BIG surprise.

    Plenty of hard evidence was presented to the Springfield Commissioners at the public hearing. Hopefully the judge will take the time to read the presentation that was made and realize that Billy Fox’s plans to build a new Rescue Mission “for Women” at Bethel Village would not be contrary to the public interest of ALL the Citizens of the City of Springfield.


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