Housing Options Made Easy Should Seek Office Downtown

It would have made sense for a housing organization to be located in a residential neighborhood if Jamestown had no office space available.

We all know that is not the case.

The Jamestown Zoning Board of Appeals made the right decision in denying a variance that would have allowed Housing Options Made Easy to locate in a vacant house owned by the Tree of Life Lutheran Church near Forest and Smith avenues. More than 70 people attended last week’s meeting, some carrying signs. Ten people spoke, most of them against the variance, 113 people signed a petition against the proposal and nine people sent letters opposing the variance. While we’re not sure some of the reasoning from the neighbors makes much sense, there is a bigger issue at play that makes the Zoning Board’s decision the right one.

Unlike some other zoning variance discussions, the nonprofit in this case didn’t appear to prove that a real hardship exists to warrant a zoning variance. The variance was really a matter of convenience that would have lowered the organization’s rent.

Organizations like Housing Options Made Easy should be encouraged to either find locations downtown where office space already exists or to cluster such organizations in accessible areas so that those who need help don’t have to travel from one end of the city to the other to get the assistance they need. Having agencies spread throughout city neighborhoods makes little sense for people who need help.