Debate Over Easton Homeless Shelter Location Hits New Heights - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Debate Over Easton Homeless Shelter Location Hits New Heights

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EASTON, Md.- Many thought Tuesday would be the day the Easton Board of Appeals approved a special exemption to convert a bed and breakfast on Goldsborough Street to a homeless shelter.  But what people weren't expecting was four hours of debate, and no decision.

It was standing room only in Easton town hall Tuesday morning.  Supporters of the Talbot Interfaith Shelter's proposed new location, as well as upset neighbors all came to share their viewpoint, with several people left standing in the hallway.  But the debate wasn't over whether or not to have a full time shelter in Easton, just a matter of where.  Tom Stork has been trying to sell his home next to the proposed shelter for seven years, and almost had sealed the deal when the news that a homeless shelter may be coming next door hit.

"The buyer said no way I can go through with this contract, I've got to raise two kids next to a homeless shelter, I can't take that chance I'm making such an investment, and in good conscience we had to agree with him." said Stork.

Others are concerned the location isn't practical.

"With the purchase price which they quoted today as $569,000 for a six bedroom house, that's almost $100,000 a bed.  That money could be put to better use." said Rob Shannahan, a real estate agent who owns an office across the street from the proposed location, Easton's Promise bed and breakfast.

But Talbot Interfaith Shelter executive director Julie Lowe says despite some pushback from nearby neighbors and business owners, Easton's Promise is the best spot to help people get back on their feet, and has the necessary safety equipment already.

"I understand their concerns about property value.  But I really think this is the perfect place.  It's in the community, it's near all the services, it has a functioning sprinkler system, and the layout inside is perfect and we wouldn't have to do any renovations whatsoever." said Lowe.

As for the impact to the neighborhood, Keith Camp, who went through the Interfaith Shelter this winter, has an answer.

"Run properly, the way they would do it, the people in the neighborhood would never even know it's a homeless shelter.  It would just be another house on the block." said Camp.

A house which they say will function no differently from the bed and breakfast that's there now.

A decision was not reached Tuesday on whether or not to allow the shelter due to the number of people who spoke taking up all of the available time.  There will be a public deliberation at a future date which has not yet been set.
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