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Neighbors to a possible homeless center are pushing back on its location

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

Some neighbors to a possible resource center for the homeless are pushing back on its location.

Several groups in the city are wanting to build the Opportunity Campus on Business Loop 70 near Bowling Street. The person who used to own the land for the center is against the plan.

The Voluntary Action Center has been looking for land to build the campus for almost two years. But the former owner of the property is saying she had no idea the property would be used for a homeless center.

Attorney Marjorie Lewis represents the trust of Juliet Napier, who sold the land to Councilwoman Betsy Peters this past December. Peters wants to sell it to the Voluntary Action Center.

Lewis at last night's City Council meeting that the former owners are against the property being used for the center.

"In preparation for tonight's meeting, we contacted a lot of neighboring property owners both by walking door-to-door and by phone calls and a lot of them said they had no idea it was happening," Lewis said.

In a letter sent to the city, Lewis said Napier thought Peters would use it as a retirement village when selling the property. The letter stated although homelessness is an issue that should be addressed, the property is not the appropriate location for the center.

Also due to the historic value of the land, which stopped Napier and others from rezoning the land in 2009.

"This was strongly opposed by the historic preservation commission and the downtown leadership council, eventually citing concerns like the historic nature of the property, the application was denied," Lewis said.

Other residents told the council they agree.

"About two or three meetings ago I asked the group that was working on this to not go forward. We're talking about a poor location," Eugene Elkin said.

"I would just like to ask the council that we table this matter. So we can allow more time for the public to have a say in this matter," Austin Rucker said.

But those with the VAC wanted the project to move forward.

"If you can think of a better property we're all ears but this is am ample property," said Stephanie Yoakum, who is a volunteer with JB Mobile Soup Kitchen .

"I look forward to replat of this property so we can move forward," VAC Chairman Mark Thomas said.

The council still needs to vote on a permit for a shelter for it to be built in that location.

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Leila Mitchell

Leila is a Penn State graduate who started with KMIZ in March 2021. She studied journalism and criminal justice in college.

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