Residents vehemently oppose rezoning

Residents vehemently oppose rezoning
April 30
00:00 2015
(Above: Photo by Erin Mizelle for the Winston-Salem Chronicle – Roughly 50 people came out to voice their opinion on the rezoning of 939 Cleveland Ave. for a shelter for The Salvation Army.)

Roughly 50 people came out on Tuesday night, April 28, to voice their opinion on the rezoning of 939 Cleveland Ave. for a shelter for The Salvation Army.

The community  responded with an overwhelming no to the request.

The forum, held by Council Member Derwin Montgomery at the Rupert Bell Recreation Center, was held so that residents in the East Winston community could discuss the proposal with each other, members from The Salvation Army and members from Housing Authority of Winston-Salem.

The Housing Authority of Winston-Salem’s Board of Commissioners has signed a petition of protest against the rezoning of the property at 939 Cleveland Ave. at a special meeting that was called on April 21. A petition of protest triggers a super majority of the City Council in order for the rezoning to pass, meaning it would require six members to pass instead of five, meaning the mayor would have to vote.

The petition could prevent The Salvation Army from purchasing the daycare building from Greater Cleveland Christian Church and turning it into an estimated 90-bed facility to house homeless individuals directly across from the Oaks at Tenth property.

Both Major James Allison, from The Salvation Army, and Larry Woods, CEO of HAWS, attended Tuesday night’s meeting and spoke to attendees about their wishes and answered questions. “We believe that the family shelter coming to the Cleveland Avenue area is not a deterrent at all to the economic or any other progress in this area,” Allison said. “We are happy to be in this neighborhood, we want to be in this neighborhood and we need to be in this neighborhood. It is a place in the community that needs us.”

Woods said council must stick to the plan. “We believe that if this community put together this plan, it should be adhered to by all city government and agencies. Any changes of that plan should be brought back to the community, for the community’s sake,” he said.

Resident Donja Gillis doesn’t live in the area but said that she believes the organization’s presence would benefit the area.

“I’ve been serviced by The Salvation Army, and I’m pretty sure that a lot of you guys against the rezoning, your families or you have received services from The Salvation Army,” Gillis said. “Most of the time The Salvation Army is servicing people from this community. It’s hard to sit and hear this area say ‘we don’t want a shelter that is only to help people.’”

James Russo disagrees and said that the community should fight for the original plan. “We have a plan now. Winston-Salem finally has a plan that will develop East Winston. We’ve had to fight for a grocery store and drug store. We can get an ABC store but we’ve had to fight for anything else that’s been positive in the community,” he said. “Don’t let this take away all of the hard work and efforts to improve the economic development of East Winston.” Resident Jimmy Norwood said that he chose to live in East Winston and was glad to see the turnout tonight.

“It’s not a bad thing, but it’s not the thing for our neighborhood,” he said. “No matter what, perception is what drives the reality. It may not be a bad thing but perception is what people see.”

Abram Coker said he’s lived in the area all his life and has seen businesses come and go over what he deems stupidity and negativity.

“What I’m seeing is that something that may be good and help the community, people are using the excuse ‘Not in my community’,” Coker said. “Lack of knowledge is one of the problems. When someone comes to do something good you don’t want it. Instead of making excuses you need to work it and see what you get out of it.”

Antonio Pagan is the pastor of Iglesia Christiana Arca de Refugio (Arc of Refuge) and is fairly new to the area. His church bought the property in November 2014. The shelter would be right next to his building.

“It would be unfair for me to have an opinion because I’m new to the area, however we have to hear the community and do what they asked to be done,” he said.

The City Council meeting will be held on Monday, May 4 at 7 p.m. at the City Hall building in Room 230. For those who cannot make the council meeting, it can be viewed live online by accessing the government website:.

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Chanel Davis

Chanel Davis

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