ST. CLOUD -- After a nearly two-hour public hearing Monday night the St. Cloud City Council has voted to table a decision about the plan to expand an overnight homeless shelter in southeast St. Cloud.

Last month the Zoning Board of Appeals approved an amendment to a Conditional Use Permit for the Lincoln Center to allow them to expand to 25 overnight guests, on the condition that the staffing ratio is increased to one staff person for two guests.

The Lincoln Center appealed that decision to the City Council saying it would be financially impossible to maintain that number of staff 24 hours a day seven days a week.

Council member Mike Conway says an expansion of the facility shouldn't happen until they come into compliance with the original CUP that was approved in 2021.

My concern is I've heard a lot of 'we're going to be, this is what we plan".  The problem is I can't live on that anymore.  The east side can't live on that anymore.  In my opinion, it's now more that I need to see concrete plans.  When is this going to be done, and where is the funding coming from?

The main issue is the Lincoln Center has not installed a sprinkler system, which is one of the conditions of the original CUP.

Executive Director Harry Fleegel says they are starting to work on that now and he is hoping to have it functioning by August or September.

Council member Dave Masters says the council needs to do what it can to make the facility successful.

We really need to allow for staff to meet with Harry, look at the facility, and help guide them a little bit with some of the funding.  They've got a $100,000 grant recently, that can go to good use in that facility and create a lot of the things that we've been talking about tonight.

For now, the Lincoln Center continues to operate under the rules of the original CUP which is one staff member for 19 guests, however until the sprinkler system is installed the overnight guests are supposed to be limited to 10.

Fleegel says a number of changes to the overall floor plan that he'd like to make using a recently awarded $100,000 grant, however, the original CUP doesn't allow him to make those changes, which is why an amended CUP is necessary.

During the public hearings at both the Zoning Board and the City Council, a number of homeowners and business owners spoke about the challenges they've had in the southeast St. Cloud neighborhood city the facility opened.

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The council will have to make a final decision at its next meeting on July 11th.

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