Davenport considers zoning change for Timothy's House of Hope to offer meals

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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - There may still be hope for Timothy's House of Hope at its new location in Davenport. The city shut down the outreach organization last month over zoning issues. Aldermen on Tuesday discussed making a change that would again allow meal services for those in need.

Timothy's House of Hope had been on West 4th Street for years. Then the center recently found a new home on the 1600 block of Washington Street. It's zoned C-2, General Commercial District the same as the old location. However, the move raised an issue that hasn't come up yet since a change in city code five years ago. With all the public input council members think it's worth another look.

"I think we've definitely gotten a start and we've resolved the immediate crisis and now we can work into larger discussions," said Alderman Maria Dickmann.

New rules for places providing housing and supportive services were adopted in 2012. Since it was operating at the time, Timothy's House of Hope was grandfathered in at its previous location. With the move it lost compliance, specifically for the meal service. In the weekly management meeting city leaders asked about amending the ordinance to allow the organization to continue serving meals.

"There's been a lot of support that it's not just homeless people," added Dickmann.

Alderman Ray Ambrose maintains the center isn't a good fit for his ward. He says neighbors continue to voice their concerns of loitering and public nuisances.

"Businesses had people sleeping on their front step and sleeping on the park bench," said Ambrose. "I'm concerned about the businesses, concerned about the people who live in the neighborhood."

Ambrose added he believes neighbors will lose their voice if an amendment goes through. There will be more opportunities for the community to weigh in still as city leaders discuss what's next.

"I think this is a good step and we'll see what happens," he said.

City staff will draft an ordinance revision that would allow limited hour meal service. It would need to go through the Planning and Zoning Commission and then three readings at council. Meantime, the Timothy's House of Hope could resume serving meals while the changes are debated as soon as the fire marshal gives the all clear. There will also be a neighborhood meeting to gather input on the preferred hours for the meal service to operate.