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Planning Board recommends rezoning for day center

Peacock Architects Designer Bro Dennis speaks to Hendersonville’s Planning Board on Monday during its regular monthly meeting Peacock Architects Designer Bro Dennis speaks to Hendersonville’s Planning Board on Monday during its regular monthly meeting

Hendersonville’s Planning Board on Monday voted to recommend that city council make a zoning change to allow for a day center to operate from a church in the city.


The board voted during its regular monthly meeting five to one to recommend the change with board member Neil Brown voting against the request. Board member Tamara Peacock was recused from the vote because her business Tamara Peacock Architects applied to the city for the change to amend the C -2 Secondary Business district. The church’s pastor applied for the change along with the architects.
Grace Blue Ridge, a Presbyterian Church in Hendersonville, is asking the city to rezone its property to allow for the day center for people in need in the community.
The church’s senior pastor, Charles “Chas” Morris, said in an interview before the meeting that the Hendersonville Connections Center will “eliminate barriers for people who need services to get them all in one place.”
Plans for the center are part of a six-year project the church has been working on with other community leaders, Morris said.
The center is not a ministry of the church, but the church is offering to convert a nearly 10,000 square foot portion of its building at 109 Florence Street off Brooklyn Avenue to allow for the center.
The church is asking the city to grant a conditional zoning district to allow for the needed renovations to create the center. The proposal also calls for improvements to parking and landscaping to address buffers that are required for day centers that are adjacent to residential areas, according to the city’s Community Development staff report.
If the center is approved, it will have space for several agencies that serve people in need of mental and physical health care, substance abuse care and other forms of social services. Representatives from those agencies will be able to address people’s needs in one location rather than have people travel to different locations for each service, Morris said.
Morris, who is on the organization’s board of directors, called center a wholistic approach to meeting the community’s needs.
A website for the center says it is needed in the local area.
“Henderson County needs a place where people in our community can go to address many needs in one visit,” according to the website. “By sharing one physical space, multiple agencies, organizations and ministries can provide services to people in our community that are struggling and vulnerable.”
The website also lists several agencies committed to the center. Some of those agencies include Thrive, Blue Ridge Community College, Blue Ridge Health, The Free Clinics and Henderson County’s departments of public health, social services and its Sheriff’s Department among other agencies.
Morris said many people in the community are in favor of the center. But he said he has heard from a few neighbors who were concerned about the center’s clients being on their property and how the center might impact their property values.
“It’s not an overnight or treatment facility,” he said. “We won’t have folks loitering and hanging out.”
People who seek services at the center will also know they must follow its rules to receive its benefits.
“There are consequences for not abiding by the rules,” he said.
Board members on Monday also questioned whether people who go to the center will stay overnight and how people without their own vehicles will find transportation when the center closes.
Rachel Ingram, the center’s executive director, and Kristen Martin, the executive director at Thrive, both attended the meeting and addressed the board’s concerns. They said clients of the center will have either public or private transportation to and from the day center.
“No one is staying overnight,” Ingram said. “We’re sharing this with a religious institution that has services on weekends.”
Board members also had concerns about fencing around the property and shrubbery around the property.
Dennis Bro, a designer with the architect company, said they were prepared to meet buffering needs.
In the end, the board voted to recommend the project on the condition that the day center provide adequate fencing around the property, replace a section of existing fence that does not meet the city’s height requirements and replace any existing fence that comes down or needs to be replaced.
For more information about plans for Hendersonville Connections, visit www.hendersonvilleconnectionscenter.org.