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Sisters City Council denies proposed cold-weather shelter, citing sidewalk safety, other issues

(Update: Adding video, statement from nonprofit and residents)

SISTERS, Ore. (KTVZ)— Sisters City Council members voted 4-1 Tuesday afternoon to deny the application for a proposed shelter in Sisters, after months of controversy and testimony about the proposal.

The shelter, proposed by the nonprofit Sisters Cold Weather Shelter, would have been located on West Barclay Drive, blocks from City Hall.

The city council previously held a public hearing regarding the shelter in August. Over 100 residents were on hand to give their opinions. Many residents said they were fearful of more drugs and crime.

Among issues raised in the council’s formal findings (see below), they note a lack of sidewalks or bike lanes in the area and “limited to no shoulders,” in an industrial area with many oversized vehicles at night, and with infrequent public transportation. “Council finds that access to the site by walking or biking to the proposed facility is not safe, convenient or reliable,” it says.

Eric Knirk was at the packed public hearing last month. He says he and other residents are relieved of the council's decision.

"Who's going to compensate and mitigate the problems that something like this (shelter) would drop in the middle of the business community?" Knirk said Thursday. "People have their livelihoods in these buildings. People have made major investments in purchasing these properties to hire people and have economic activity in the area, and people earn their livelihoods."

Here is the city recording of Tuesday's council meeting:

The council noted “extremely conflicting evidence” on whether the shelter would pose an unreasonable risk to public health or safety, including “the lack of evidence provided by the applicant as to the operational capacity of the organization to safely operate the facility.”

The nonprofit told NewsChannel 21, "Simply put the Mayor was very influenced by public opinion and the strong influence of business owners adjacent to the building we are set to purchase. We’re a hindrance to their development plans."

Here's the city's formal decision:

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Isabella Warren

Isabella Warren is a Multimedia Journalist for NewsChannel 21.


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