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Controversial proposal moving homeless shelter in Fort Smith pulled

Next Step Homeless Services in Fort Smith has now pulled its request to build a new shelter near Towson Avenue.

FORT SMITH, Ark — A controversial rezoning proposal in Fort Smith has ended for now after Next Step Homeless Services in Fort Smith has pulled its request to build a new shelter near Towson Avenue.

This decision was made during Tuesday’s, Feb. 15, Fort Smith City Board of Directors meeting. 

The proposal would have allowed a plan by the organization to build a new shelter near South U Street and Towson Avenue in Fort Smith.

"The location seemed perfect. We weren't attached to any neighborhoods," said Next Step board member Susan Tucker. 

However, as the issue went on, it quickly became apparent this rezoning proposal was not going to be easy. 

"At the first hearing with the planning commission, several people from the Park Hill area showed up and they were already angry and ready to fight," Tucker said.

Despite the recent public hearings and sessions, the Next Step Board decided to call everything off. 

According to Tucker, this was not a unanimous decision. 

"There were people who thought our clients deserved to feel proud of where they lived," Tucker said. "As we talked about it, we decided we don't want to put our clients in such a hostile environment."

A few of the city directors promised to find a new location for the nonprofit to relocate from its current building on N. 6 Street. 

"I love the passion that you have for the people that you serve," said Fort Smith At-Large position 5 Director Robyn Dawson. "The city will continue to support you to find the place you want."

RELATED: Fort Smith residents voice concerns over rezoning for homeless shelter

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