An outside attorney hired by Bonita Springs is reviewing the draft of a homeless shelter operating ordinance as well as an attorney’s claim that her client’s application should not be subject to the city’s moratorium on homeless shelters.
City Attorney Audrey Vance told the Local Planning Agency board Thursday she submitted both documents to independent counsel Beverly Grady.
Community development staff drafted the operating standards for homeless shelters taking into account input from residents at planning board meetings.
Vance believes it would be unconstitutional for a shelter to require clients to provide proof of legal status, which many residents had asked be included. The proposed ordinance does require incoming clients to provide a state ID and two proofs of residential address in the city for a minimum of six months.
Vance also said it would be illegal for the city to require the shelter to share clients’ personal and medical information.
“The information that was submitted on the intake form was the meat and potatoes of the whole deal,” planning board member Rex Sims said. “Now there’s very little information we’re going to have about this person.”
Vice Chairman Sam Vincent said if it’s against the law, there’s nothing that can be done.
Grady will present her legal opinions to the board, which will make its recommendations to the City Council. Public hearings will be held before the planning board and City Council.
On April 17, Development Associates filed an application to build a shelter of up to 168 beds in the empty bank building at 9200 Cockleshell Court, off Old 41 Road next to the Art League of Bonita Springs.
On April 18, the City Council passed a moratorium that went into effect after a 30-day waiting period for 12 months or until homeless shelter regulations are in place, whichever is shorter. In addition to operating standards, city staff is working on zoning regulations for social services including homeless shelters.
Grady had argued that the moratorium should apply based on precedent and the timeline because the property owner knew it was pending when the application was filed.
In July, the City Council accepted her opinion that the moratorium applies unless the developer’s attorney could prove she relied in good faith on the actions of the government, which substantially changed.
Neale Montgomery, Development Associates’ attorney, submitted her claim this week. She said city staff also advised in public meetings and written correspondence that the property owner could submit an application before the adoption date of the moratorium. She said her client has invested millions. “If the local development order is not issued and the vested rights are not restored, the landowner will pursue legal action and will seek compensation for the harm caused by the actions of the City,” Montgomery wrote.