Ruth Meier's Rezone Denied by Bismarck City Commission - - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Ruth Meier's Rezone Denied by Bismarck City Commission

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Bismarck city commissioners deny a rezoning appeal of the Ruth Meier's Hospitality Home.

The Home serves people in need of food, shelter and services.

Having outgrown their current location, Directors of the shelter wanted to move into the Baptist Home at 1100 East Boulevard.

The director of Ruth Meier's Hospitality Home says they need more room for a food kitchen, clinic and affordable housing.

"We're running out of space. Our food pantry is wall to wall. We need to expand some of those spaces and by relocating our offices, our overhead decreases and additional expenses decrease by going from 3 facilities to 2," Ruth Meier's Executive Director Jaclyn Bugbee said.

Local residents say they do not want transients in their neighborhood.

"We would be stupid to believe that Ruth Meier's doesn't plan to eventually make the Baptist home into a Super Walmart for homelessness," area resident Jaime Anderson said.

In all, 35 people testified and debated the issue for around five hours.

Most of the public speakers are against the relocation but some do support it.

"You're not opening up your eyes. You're just thinking about how it's going to affect you. What about everybody else that needs help? What about the people that could use it? How about you act a little more Christian and put your hand out instead of hand down," a Bismarck man said.

Ultimately, the decision lies in the commissioners hands.

Josh Askvig was the first to speak in favor of the relocation, followed by Mike Seminary.

Both quickly changed their votes once they realized they wouldn't get the 4 to 1 approval.

"This is your neighborhood and you don't want it here, so I'm going to support not having it here," Commissioner Parrell Grossman said.

"When 90% of the people in the neighborhood sign a petition saying that they are opposed to it, they are in my opinion the grass roots, the tax payers that elected me a long time ago to be your mayor and so I'm going against it," Mayor John Warford said.

All five commissioners agree to deny the rezoning, but the need for more space hasn't changed.

Bugbee says they are looking into buying a vacant gas station on N. 14th St. and E. Boulevard Ave. as a back up plan.

She says their current soup kitchen serves around 40 people a day.

Yesterday they served over 60, the highest number she has seen since she started.

Last night's commission meeting lasted until 11:00p.m. That's around six and a half hours.

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