Reader stunned by city action

To the Editor,

I was astounded to read the story about the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners refusing the rezoning request for the Shepherd’s House. It amazes me the depths to which people will sink in response to their base instincts.

With the support of many people and especially the Haymore Baptist Church, the Shepherd’s House has performed their Christian ministry of caring for homeless families for more than fifteen years.

They have served thousands of needy women and children who had nowhere else to turn. They provide a structured environment, food, a safe place to sleep and most importantly, a program that helps get them back on their feet through job placement and conventional housing. Their success stories are numerous and inspirational.

Random drug testing is part of the program for people living in the Shepherd’s House. Clients must stay clean or they are evicted. It is not a drug rehab or halfway house – it is a homeless shelter.

There were no technical reasons for denying the rezoning request. There was no opposition at the public hearing and the Planning Board voted unanimously to approve the rezoning. The new facility will be the best‐looking building on the block. The Shepherd’s House gets no funding from the city, all they wanted was a small rezoning. So, what happened?

It appears this vote was the result of a cowardly campaign of fear capped off by four elected officials equally lacking in courage.

Brinkley said she had been contacted by “many” citizens – what about the thousands who did not say anything to her because they could not imagine her doing something as stupid as her motion to deny the request?

Brown says “hundreds” of citizens talked to him. Although that number seems unlikely, he bases his objection on the historic district in an area already filled with non‐historic homes, businesses and four government facilities that are devoid of any historic character.

The commissioners are making up excuses to pander to people who don’t want “those” kinds of people in their town. Their thinking must be, “It’s okay if there are poor people, as long as they are somewhere else.” So much for Christian charity!

Elected officials are supposed to lead instead of allowing the worst tendencies in people to make policy. It seems we have a board that is better at fearmongering than leadership.


John Springthorpe, II