El Paso City Council approves new rules for halfway houses

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New ordinance requires halfway houses to apply for special permit every 2 years

Tuesday, July 29, 2014 - 11:53pm

El Paso City Council approved new rules for halfway houses Tuesday.

The new ordinance requires halfway houses to apply for a special permit every two years, which would allow for community input.

The houses would have to stay 1,000 feet away from schools, parks and churches.

Existing halfway houses would be grandfathered in and would not have to apply for the new permits every two years.  However, if the building is expanded or modified, the new ordinance would apply.

Originally, the ordinance would have also applied to homeless shelters, but was later clarified to apply only to halfway houses.

Even so, the Salvation Army Area Commander Major Mark Morton said he does not agree with the changes.

"You're now saying that the government body of the City Council has the control of saying whether a shelter can or cannot exist, and under this zoning, it will open it to public debate," he said.

Northeast City Representative Carl Robinson was the only council member to vote against the change, saying it would discourage other shelters from opening.

City Representative Eddie Holguin originally proposed the changes in an attempt to keep sex offenders away from schools and churches.

Other representatives argued there's already an ordinance in place to keep them away, and that it is up to police to enforce it.

 

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