CLINTON — Residents living near the recently announced new location of the Victory Center have filed a petition voicing their opposition to having the homeless shelter in their neighborhood.

A petition signed by 132 residents was received by the clerk’s office at City Hall on Aug. 6.

The petition reads:

“The residents in the neighborhood of 505 Ninth Ave. South and the concerned people of Clinton Iowa believe the Victory Center in a residential neighborhood is not only inappropriate but also depreciates the value of the homes that we have chosen to raise our families in. We believe that everyone should have somewhere to go but relocating this center in a residential area that will house approx. 62 people is not how we chose to raise our families. We should be the first people to be considered since we have chosen this area to live our lives and raise our children.”

A motion to receive and place the petition on file was approved as part of the Clinton City Council unanimous consent calendar on Aug. 14. City Clerk Deb Neels said that is as far as the petition will get unless the council gets involved in the matter in some way through zoning ordinances. City Attorney Matt Brisch said that cities cannot restrict where church or elder care facilities are located. He noted that in some cases, a petition is used as a “vocal mechanism,” letting the city know how some residents feel about an issue.

Gayla Rixen, a signer of the petition, said she became concerned about the Victory Center’s new location after reading newspaper articles stating that 69 percent of men that frequent homeless centers are pedophiles. Rixen remarked that three of her granddaughters and 57 children live in the immediate vicinity of the proposed shelter site.

“Of all the buildings in Clinton, I can’t understand why they bought that one,” Rixen said. She added that many families were very upset to learn of the new Victory Center location. She said her son is a Realtor and told her that residential real estate values in the area of the site decreased by approximately 20 percent shortly after the new location was announced. She advised that three homes already have been put up for sale.

Rixen said she attended the Aug. 14 council meeting with the indication that the issue would be discussed, but was dismayed when the council did not mention the petition.

Victory Center Pastor Ray Giminez said he thinks there may be some misconceptions about the center within the public and the Victory Center board and staff want to address citizens’ concerns and answer any questions they may have. A meeting will be held at the current Victory Center site, 100 N. Sixth St., on Sept. 8 at 10 a.m. Giminez is inviting concerned citizens, including those who signed the petition, to attend the session to discuss the new Victory Center location.

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