A church is a step closer to getting zoning changed in a residential neighborhood, so that they can have a house for homeless families in transition. The Rockledge Planning Commission approved recommending the land use be changed from residential to mixed use. It's a plan that has strong opinions from both sides.
Diane Mahaffey attends a planning commission meeting with three children she's caring for. She says she met and became their legal guardian through the Grace Fellowship Church.
"Otherwise they would be sleeping in a van, because when our church found out about them, they had already spent one night in a van."
Diane says the kids lived in a yellow house off Morrell Road, but moved in with her while their parents make ends meet. It's the same home that Grace Fellowship wants to use to house other homeless families in transition, but they need to get the zoning changed.
"It's for the other families. I'm taking care of this family, but for the other families that are homeless, they're not kids out vandalizing."
"My concern is that this is less than half a mile from my house." Sandy Golden worries about the safety of the children in her own family, not knowing who could be staying there. "It's rather sickening. I have my grand daughter's at my house all the time." She's also concerned about the value of her house decreasing, the church also wants to operate an office from another home on the same street. "We're already way, way down from the economy and a lot of people are almost upside down, if not already there with loans."
But Diane says the house is for hardworking people who can't get a break. "They're people like you and I that fell on hard times."
In the end, the planning commission decided to recommend changing the land use from residential to mixed, but it will ultimately be up to the city council to decide Sandy says, "Sad. I will be leaving Rockledge undoubtedly, because my house isn't worth anything anymore."
The city council will consider the zoning change at their next meeting on February 20th.