The McKinney City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a rezoning ordinance that solidified the Salvation Army’s ability to house up to 50 people in an emergency overnight warming station on certain nights.
The ordinance allows the Salvation Army McKinney Corps located on the property to provide lodging as an emergency overnight warming station on nights when temperatures are expected to fall at or below 40 degrees. The rezoning includes a cap on the number of guests at 50 people for one night.
The organization received an approved temporary use permit in the previous year that allowed it to house up to 40 people per night 45 nights out of the year as an emergency overnight warming station. Under the temporary use permit, the facility could act as an emergency station on nights when the temperature was projected to be 32 degrees and below with no precipitation or at 35 degrees or below with a 40% chance of precipitation.
McKinney Planning Director Jennifer Arnold said the proposed rezoning didn’t involve any building expansions. She also said the rezoning institutionalizes the organization’s ability to operate an overnight emergency warming station.
“With the proposed rezoning request, essentially we are plucking up a lot of the same requirements from that temporary use permit, and we’re making it part of the zoning on the property,” Arnold said.
At a previous Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, multiple speakers shared concerns around the proposed rezoning including that crime would increase in the area and that the facility’s location near schools would mean putting children at risk.
During the Planning and Zoning meeting, Major David Feeser with the Salvation Army in McKinney said that after an overnight stay most visitors are out of the building by 6 or 7 a.m.
During Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Mayor Pro Tem Rainey Rogers asked Feeser if there had been any complaints, issues or concerns with the warming station as it had operated in the last year. Feeser said there had not.
“And in talking with some of the neighborhood residents, some of them didn’t even realize we were open last year,” he said. “And that’s exactly what we wanted.”
During Tuesday’s public hearing, Streetside Showers Founder Lance Olinksi spoke in favor of approving the rezoning ordinance.
“I have been serving with the homeless community for three and a half years, and although we do have some limited services in Collin County, the need for an overnight station is very critical,” he said. “When temperatures drop below freezing, we need a safe and warm place for folks to stay.”
One speaker asked the City Council to consider moving the temperature benchmark from 40 degrees to 32 degrees. Mayor George Fuller said the choice to use a 40-degree benchmark was to provide flexibility to the organization.
“If it’s 40 degrees and raining and strong winds, for example, that’s a different situation than 40 degrees on a clear night and no wind and no precipitation,” he said.
Fuller also addressed safety concerns.
“Certainly, we’re going to monitor this, we’re going to watch this,” Fuller said. “We did last year. We did during the season. We have police that are monitoring it and available if there were to ever be an issue. We have the Salvation Army which has no interest in a problem.”