Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 6:41 PM on Wednesday, April 20, 2011

City officials reject Refuge Room appeal

By Michael Armstrong
Staff Writer

Acting as the Board of Adjustment, the Homer City Council has ruled 4-2 against an appeal by the Refuge Room that it be classified as a rooming house.

While it can still be appealed in Superior Court, the decision released Tuesday ends city involvement in an appeals process that started in September 2007. This was the third time the Board of Adjustment heard an appeal on the Refuge Room.

The Homer Advisory Planning Commission had found in August 2010 that the housing facility for men on Pioneer Avenue should be classified as a shelter for the homeless. The council, acting as the adjustment board, upheld the commission's determination and agreed that Refuge Room is a homeless shelter and thus should apply for a conditional use permit.

The two dissenting council members argued that the Refuge Room should be classified as a rooming house.

The board had considered Refuge Room's appeal last December, but had to rescind its decision after citizen activist Frank Griswold showed he had not been given proper notice. The board held another hearing in March. The latest appeal is in response to an enforcement order by City Planner Rick Abboud that the Refuge Room needed the permit.

The Refuge Room is a housing facility for men operated by Refuge Chapel. The Refuge Room is in a small building next to Refuge Chapel. It provides shared sleeping quarters, showers, laundry and dining facilities for men at the rate of $10 a night. The Refuge Room has a drug and alcohol free policy.

A message was left with Refuge Chapel Pastor Darren Williams for comment, but he did not return a call by press time.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.