Struggle To Keep Bunnell's Sheltering Tree Open Continues Tonight


Bunnell, FL - Volunteers and board members of The Sheltering Tree in Bunnell will be at tonight's Bunnell City Commission meeting on a humanitarian mission, according to Martin Collins, board member and assistant chair of the agency. He said services offered by The Sheltering Tree are helping people on the edge of homelessness to keep from going over that edge.

Collins is planning an appeal to people's humanity and their compassion for other human beings but all options are being explored. He said that for some people, the help they get from The Sheltering Tree is the only help they get. Some of the services provided include helping people with utilities and other housing costs when they can, offering free clothing and bicycles for transportation, a small food pantry and help with finding employment.

The Bunnell City Commission agenda states that the zoning of the area where First United Methodist Church of Bunnell and Flagler County Family Assistance Center, Inc., a.k.a. The Sheltering Tree operates carries a City of Bunnell Future Land Use designation of R-1, Single-Family residential district. Collins argues that a letter issued by the Department of Justice sees things differently.

The issue began in May when the Planning, Zoning and Appeals Board denied a Special Exception request from the Flagler County Family Assistance Center, Inc., a.k.a. The Sheltering Tree to operate a Cold Weather Homeless Shelter. The City Charter has notification requirements for appeals. When the notification was issued, several citizens and businesses expressed concerns about this location being used as a homeless shelter.

The City of Bunnell lists a number of additional concerns with the Flagler County Family Assistance Center, Inc., including the zoning issue on tonight's agenda.

Tonight's meeting begins at 7 p.m. in Bunnell City Commission Chambers.



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