Savannah councilwoman holds news conference to discuss shelter proposal

Updated: Jan. 26, 2021 at 5:59 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Savannah Alderwoman Bernetta Lanier called a news conference Tuesday to discuss an issue in her district that’s gotten a lot of attention.

That is Council’s upcoming decision on whether or not to grant a special use permit to the Salvation Army to open a shelter in west Savannah.

1st District Alderwoman Bernetta Lanier calls it a clash of visions when it comes to what all the interested parties believe should go on the 12 acre tract of land in west Savannah.

She added whatever Council decides to do on Thursday could have a lasting impact for generations.

The shelter the Salvation Army wants to open will be called Center of Hope, and looks to expand bed space and enhance the living conditions for the men, women and children they provide temporary shelter for.

But the location of the proposed shelter is the issue.

“If we make the decision to allow this special use permit, this is going to impact our low-wealth, marginalized, vulnerable community. We’re vulnerable, and this will break us. We’re vulnerable,” said Alderwoman Lanier.

Alderwoman Lanier said the surrounding community would be better served by what’s called a neighborhood network through Housing and Urban Development.

“What that provides for is affordable housing, a retail component that is a job generator and a technology training center, training piece, that would be great.”

Another issue the Alderwoman has with the shelter at site is its historical significance, specifically the areas ties to The Weeping Time.

It’s a past a Salvation Army representative says would be recognized and not forgotten.

“The idea of using such a horrible event as a reason not to be able to help out people, it kind of confounds me. So I hope that we’re able to work together to find a way that we can celebrate that,” said Major Paul Egan with the Salvation Army.

Ultimately the decision is up to Council on Thursday following a zoning hearing.

We’ll continue to follow this story, and let you know what’s decided.

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