Miss Carly’s speaks with Zoning Board of Appeals to continue serving Rockford’s homeless

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A Rockford group that works with and feeds Rockford’s homeless appears in front of the Zoning Board of Appeals.

A permit to keep the charity running was at stake. This became necessary after some neighbors complained to the city.

“We work so hard on empowering other people, it felt really good to be empowered today,” said Carly Rice, owner of Miss Carly’s.

Carly Rice took the first steps toward getting Miss Carly’s a special use permit from the city of Rockford by pleading her case to the Zoning Board of Appeals.

After answering board members’ questions, and a long debate, the board agreed to recommend Miss Carly’s for the permit.

“Before we walked into there, we walked into the chambers,” Rice said. “I really didn’t understand how unconventional this was and what a challenge it was to fit us in a legal box.”

Council Chambers were packed for the meeting. Seven people stood up and spoke for Miss Carly’s. One emotional speech even brought a board member to tears.

Miss Carly’s agreed to a set of conditions, including meal service times and hours of operation.

Not all residents are happy with the service being in their neighborhood.

“The city wants to have strong neighborhoods and concentrating homelessness in one or two neighborhoods does not enhance that or contribute to a strong neighborhood,” said Lois Ginter, a concerned neighbor. “Miss Carly’s is not the only agency in this town that renders that help. There are dozens of other agencies here that do it.”

A main point of contention, and Rice’s core belief, is not requiring an ID to get a meal.

“If there’s an incident, they don’t know who it was,” Ginter said. “A huge public safety problem for our neighborhood when they’re not helping with the security and the personal safety of our neighborhoods.”

“[Some people] have just had very adverse life experiences and they’re just not comfortable giving all of their information just to get a plate of food,” Rice said.

The next step Miss Carly’s has to take is going up in front of the Codes and Regulation Committee on Tuesday, May 28th.  

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