Friday, February 8, 2008

Shepherd's House Under Fire Again

The Shepherd's House, a "faith-based" mission on Division Street in Bend that gives food, shelter and counseling to up to 60 homeless men, might have

Posted By on Fri, Feb 8, 2008 at 12:04 PM

The Shepherd's House, a "faith-based" mission on Division Street in Bend that gives food, shelter and counseling to up to 60 homeless men, might have to turn some of them away if an appeal by the owner of a nearby property succeeds.

Allan Bruckner, a former Bend mayor who owns property next door to the mission, filed a last-minute appeal Thursday afternoon against a city decision that allowed the mission to expand its capacity from 32 to 60.

The city planning department decided to allow the expansion on an emergency basis during Bend's cold snap last month. But according to Bruckner, the mission has been ignoring the 32-client limit from the start. "From the very beginning they were cheating on that," Bruckner told The EYE.

Bruckner complained that the planning department gave its okay for the expansion without holding hearings or getting any input from him or other neighbors. "Normally when somebody doesn't follow the rules they get a slap on the wrist or something, but in this case the city just let them go ahead and expand," he said. "That irritated me. ... I have to stand all the legal expense because [the city] wanted to look like heroes to somebody."

Bruckner said the clientele of the mission has been scattering beer cans and other litter and writing graffiti on his property. But Lynda Johnson, executive director of the mission (and not the same Linda Johnson who's on the Bend City Council), said those claims are false.

"His stuff is just so unfounded," she said. "The guys we have there are clean and sober, they're employed. I don't know what [Bruckner's] real aim is. He's been against us from Day One."

Brucker and other neighbors have been fighting The Shepherd's House since plans for it first surfaced in the summer of 2006. But Johnson said there have been no problems and the other business owners in the area no longer object to the mission.

What happens next isn't exactly clear at this point.

"I guess that's up to the courts," said Bruckner.

"I don't know what's going to happen," said Johnson. "We're not going to put those men out on the street."

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