City approves $1.5 million for new homeless shelter, amends backyard chicken ordinance

St. George City Council, St. George, Utah, April 17, 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – The St. George City Council, Thursday, approved the purchase of a building for $1.5 million that will serve as a new shelter and resource center for the homeless and underprivileged. The City Council also approved amending the city’s so-called “chicken ordinance,” allowing for homes on lots under 10,000 square feet to legally own chickens and rabbits within city limits.

The St. George Social Resource Center

Though the details of the exact use of the new facility have yet to be worked out, the City of St. George has a vision to turn the 16,000 square-foot building, located at 948 North 1300 West, into a “one-stop-shop” for services benefiting the homeless and economically underprivileged.

Services that currently function independently of each other and are at different locations across town can now be put under one roof where their efforts can be better coordinated, City Councilman Jimmie Hughes said.

We want a place where people can come and get help,” Hughes said, adding that it’s hard for anyone to get back on their feet “if you don’t have a place to live.”

Dixie Care & Share representatives discussed the need for a larger facility, where expanded and additional services could be offered, with the City Council earlier this year.

Dixie Care & Share has long-served the homeless in the St. George area, and has been praised for its efforts. However, due to the city’s rising population, the needs of the homeless have risen with it and the shelter’s resources have become strained. Beds are often filled to capacity and some people have to be turned away.

Services envisioned for the new facility include temporary and possibly interim housing, a food kitchen and pantry, social services such as job training and placement, mental health services, and so on. Details on the exact nature of the services to be offered are still being ironed out, City Manager Gary Esplin said.

The property acquired by the city includes a two-story, 74-bed building that once housed Sunhawk Academy, a youth treatment facility. Along with rooms that can be utilized for temporary housing, the building also contains office space that could be used by nonprofits, a kitchen, and a commons area. Behind the building is a large park.

“It gives us some options,” Esplin said of the property.

“We feel good about it,” Mayor Jon Pike said, adding that the location of the property is close to possible transitional housing and also SunTran bus stops.

Hughes said the work involved in helping the homeless and underprivileged is fluid and “quite frankly, will never be enough.” He thanked representatives from Dixie Care & Share and similar organizations in attendance at the meeting for all they do for the community. Theirs is a job they are not often patted on the back for, he said.

The City Council voted unanimously to approve the purchase, which is funded in part through federal grants. The vote was applauded by meeting attendees.

Amending the city’s ‘chicken ordinance’

No longer will people with backyard chickens on single-family home lots less than 10,000 square feet run afoul with the city’s code enforcers. The city code gained some public attention last year thanks to the efforts of backyard chicken enthusiasts who wanted the ordinance changed.

“The amendment only does one thing,” a representative of the St. George Planning Commission said, “and that’s eliminate the 10,000-square-foot language.”

The change lowers the square footage requirement on a lot with a single-family dwelling to 6,000 square feet. All other requirements and language remain the same.

A total of up to six hens or four rabbits (the ordinance applies to those animals as well) are permitted on a 6,000 square-foot lot. A total of 16 chickens and 10 rabbits are allowed by the city, but only if there is an additional 1,000 square feet for each chicken and rabbit over the original six and four respectively.

Keeping roosters, nature’s not-always-accurate alarm clocks, remains forbidden.

“It’s pretty clear,” Pike said, and opened the proposed zoning ordinance change up to public comment. No one spoke for or against the ordinance.

I think that it’s great that we’re making this change to to the zoning,” City Councilman Joe Bowcutt said.

The City Council unanimously passed the amendment.

Other business

Former St. George City Mayor Dan McArthur and former City Councilwoman Gail Bunker were honored by the St. George Arts Commission with its “Excellence in Arts” award.

“No one has supported the arts more than those two,” Pike said, adding it had been an honor to serve with them both on the City Council.

The City Council passed proclamations declaring the following:

  • Starting in May this year, the third Saturday in May was proclaimed Armed Forces Appreciation Day in St. George. It reiterates the national Armed Forces Day which the proclamation noted is not observed often enough. The proclamation was read in the presence of members of the Mayor’s Veterans Advisory Committee.
  • Arbor Day, April 26, was also reiterated. Pike said it is the city’s goal to plant 500 trees a year in the city’s “urban forest.”
  • April 17 was designated as official Heads Up Thumb Up Day, again drawing attention to the city’s anti-distraction driving campaign.


Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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  • nikki April 19, 2014 at 2:45 am

    finally is all I have to say about this building of the new care and share.

  • Maggie June 14, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    One more reason to be proud of my city. :)!

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