A zoning hearing examiner has denied permission for Forward Step Inc., the county's only shelter for homeless and abused women, to acceptmale residents.
In his March 15 opinion, William F. Casey said Forward Step's request to house male residents "will in effect change dramatically the original concept of the facility."
"This . . . does not represent a change of only one condition of the original conditional use, but alters the very premise upon which it was granted," Casey wrote. "The request does not conform to the Harford County code as it relates to permitted uses."
The Rev. J. William McNally, executive director of the 24-bed Edgewood facility, said he'll appeal that decision to the County Council, which sits as the county's Board of Zoning Appeals.
The shelter was cited in June for violating one of its zoning variances by accepting male boarders.The shelter's zoning variance says "that the crisis center be for female residents only."
A year ago, the shelter began accepting maleboarders referred by the Perry Point Veterans Administration Hospital as a way to generate revenue after the shelter's federal, state, and county grant money was cut off, McNally said. The grants, administered by the county, were cut off in February 1989 because of county officials' concerns the shelter had not had yearly audits as required.
"There are two women and nine men here," said McNally. "The two women are not being supported by anyone except Forward Step. If it wasn't for the veterans we wouldn't have the money to help those women."