Proposed Roswell zoning ordinance criticized as anti-homeless | KOB 4
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Proposed Roswell zoning ordinance criticized as anti-homeless

Casey Torres
April 05, 2018 08:55 PM

ROSWELL, N.M.—The New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty sent a letter to the Roswell City Council and the city attorney Wednesday.

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They wrote the letter in hopes of changing the council’s minds on a proposed zoning ordinance they feel targets the homeless.

The letter reads, in part, "The proposed zoning ordinance restricts any homeless shelter to two industrial zones in Roswell and requires that any facility be on a plot that is at least 2 acres large, have at least an 8-foot fence and be 500 feet from any other residential zone or any residential use park, public building or youth facility."

The center said the zoning restrictions make it impossible to expand current shelters.

"There are no two plot pieces of property within those districts," said Sovereign Hager, Managing Attorney for the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty. "And so the ordinance effectively bans the construction or operation of a homeless shelter that would fit the needs of the community."

Hager added that the ordinance is unconstitutional.

"A vast majority of people experiencing homelessness have physical and mental disabilities," said Hager. "The Fair Housing Act, the U.S. Constitution makes it illegal to discriminate against people with disabilities.”

Roswell Mayor Dennis Kintigh also received the letter.

"Our city attorney is going to review it and based upon his recommendation, we can reach a conclusion," Kintigh said. "But right now, it’s just being reviewed."

The Roswell City Council has pulled the ordinance from next week's meeting scheduled for April 12 to look at it more carefully.

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Casey Torres

Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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