Louisburg, N.C. — Residents in the Franklin County community of Zollieville have come out against plans to open a shelter for homeless families in the area east of Louisburg.
The Franklin County Mission Shelter wants to use the vacant Zollieville Rest Home for the county's first homeless shelter. Executive Director Lee Jefferys called the building an ideal situation, noting that it already has a commercial kitchen and laundry facilities.
"I saw the vision and the potential of a building, instead of it dilapidating and being an eyesore in the community," Jefferys said Monday.
About 170 homeless children live in Franklin County, he said, citing a main reason the group wants to open a shelter for families.
The site would need to be rezoned for the shelter, and the Franklin County Planning Board voted last week not to recommend the change. The county Board of Commissioners will have the final say on the issue when it votes on Nov. 19.
Zollieville residents say they don't want a shelter nearby, noting they fear for the safety of the many seniors who live in the area. They also noted that the area doesn't have supermarkets or other amenities that could benefit the homeless.
"If there was a homeless shelter here, that would really – we would not feel safe," resident Dorothy Waddell said.
Waddell said she and her neighbors support the idea of a homeless shelter in Franklin County, but they said the old rest home isn't the right spot for it.
Jefferys said he understands the community opposition and doesn't want to upset residents. He said the Mission Shelter board might withdraw the rezoning application before it goes to the Board of Commissioners.
"We're not giving up," he said, adding that the organization might start looking at other sites for the shelter.