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Maryland Court of Special Appeals Releases Opinion in Favor Of Easton Homeless Shelter

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Talbot Interfaith Shelter (Photo:WBOC) Talbot Interfaith Shelter (Photo:WBOC)

EASTON, Md.-  Two years ago, the Talbot Interfaith Shelter moved into a historic bed and breakfast on Goldsborough Street in Easton.  The move was not without controversy.

Some neighbors were frustrated with how the town handled the transition, and also had concerns about a homeless shelter in a residential area.  Now, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals has determined the town of Easton did nothing wrong.

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals announced in an unreported opinion that the TIS shelter on Goldsborough Street is in the clear.  It's a relief to Executive Director of the shelter, Julie Lowe.

"It was a little lengthy in our mind, but it's done now, and we're ready to do good stuff," said Lowe.

Neighbors who were initially opposed to the shelter were concerned with safety and nuisance problems with people going in and out of the shelter all day long.  As it turns out, many of them will admit that they have actually been a quiet neighbor.  On top of that, they say there has been no real safety issue related to the shelter.

Neighbors also argued the town of Easton was not open enough about the ordinance, calling for homeless shelters to be special zoning except ions, and also whether or not the bed and breakfast was an appropriate use.  The court's opinion stated "the appropriateness of the proposed special exception use at this location was an issue about which reasonable people might disagree but, at the very least, it was "fairly debatable," and the Board's decision was supported by substantial evidence in the record."

"If we had gotten an alternative ruling, we would have just found some other place to do the kind of work we want to do," said Lowe.

That work includes not just housing 14 families with 26 children in the past year, but also providing job training and counseling.  Work that for now will continue on Goldsborough.

"It feels pretty permanent.  There is certainly need greater than the space we have in this house, so if the opportunity presents itself we would certainly consider growing, but the foreseeable future, this is where we are going to be," said Lowe.

The shelter is working on buying the property towards the end of this year.

The groups that were pushing back against the shelter with all these court cases says unless the shelter becomes a nuisance or a safety issue, there's really no way they can move forward legally.  As it stands now, the Talbot Interfaith Shelter will be unopposed. 

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