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Posted at 12:11 PM ET, 01/12/2011

Fairfax City approves stricter zoning laws

By Annie Gowen

The Fairfax City Council Tuesday passed changes to its zoning code that will require social service providers in the city to apply for a special use permit when moving into new quarters.

City officials had said that the stricter zoning regulations were similar to those in other jurisdictions and were needed so that nearby businesses and neighbors could weigh in if a social service provider -- such as a homeless shelter or drug clinic -- moved in next door.

"The community...has a right to provide its input," said council member Daniel F. Drummond.

Supporters of the Lamb Center -- a daily drop-in center for the homeless located just off busy Fairfax Circle -- had vigorously opposed the measure, saying the new regulations will make it tougher for them to move to a new building. The center -- with provides job counseling, showers and hot meals for more than 100 homeless men and women daily -- has long outgrown its 3000-square-foot space. They had long been at odds with the city and some neighboring businesses who were concerned about continued incidents of loitering, public drunkenness and other crimes around the center.

"It wasn't the result we had hoped for," said David Larrabee, the center's director. "But there are many things in life that don't happen the way we want them to. We're going to continue working with the city and county to try and find a new location for the Lamb Center. We're cramped in this place."

By Annie Gowen  | January 12, 2011; 12:11 PM ET
 
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Comments

Why do they always get it exactly opposite of what needs to be done. In the richest neighborhoods is exactly where the homeless shelters should be.

Posted by: mrlewish | January 12, 2011 4:57 PM | Report abuse

agreed, people often look at this the wrong way. my mother volunteers there. the Lamb Center is not the problem. they do great work there by providing assistance to those living on the streets. they don't pass out alcohol to the homeless. anyway public drunkenness that happens around the center would happen in other parts of the city. meaning, those people in need of help exist, whether the Center is there or not. loitering they say? homeless people walk, because they can't afford a car. remove the Center and you'll have more homeless people living in the woods near the Metro instead. is that any better? closing or stopping a shelter from expanding does nothing to rid the city of people in need. i think this legislation is misguided. but at least it does not specifically zone out these types of establishments from existence.

Posted by: destewar | January 12, 2011 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Yeah its great unless you have to live near it. They failed to mention the "Shelter", which is really just a hang out and does nothing to solve the problem,is right next door to a 7-11 where they buy cheap beer and get drunk and harass the passersby. I for one will be happy to see then closed or moved elsewhere so I don't have to worry about some cracked out homeless guy raping or murdering my loved ones. I'm also tired of having my car broken into and trash thrown all over my complex's parking lot after they dumpster dive. And what good is the shelter when all they do is go live in tents and cardboard boxes in the woods at the corner of Pickett Road and Old Picket Road. The bike path that goes near there is well know for muggings.

Posted by: breal18 | January 13, 2011 12:09 AM | Report abuse

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