New Rainbow House Location Faces Opposition

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COLUMBIA - Rainbow House wants to add a new shelter to Columbia, but not all neighbors welcome the change.

The proposal involves converting four condo units on Brandon Woods Street in southern Columbia into a facility for Rainbow House's Homeless Youth Program. The shelter would offer both short and long-term care and associated counseling for homeless children.

"While the proposed use of a condo building is not the typical way by which temporary shelter or counseling services has been provided, staff does not believe it is inappropriate in this specific location," officials said in documents submitted to the Columbia Board of Adjustment.

However the Southampton Villas Condominium Association does not agree.

"This Brandon Woods area is an enclave of elderly people, and the owners of Rainbow House are attempting to take advantage of a quiet residential neighborhood for a highly commercial use where they receive as many as 20 police call outs per year," Garry Lewis, Vice President, said in an email. "Many of the residential owners do not want or need this and this commercial endeavor needs to stay in an appropriate area."

Lewis wrote a letter to the Rainbow House applicants calling the police calls "a nuisance" and accusing Rainbow House of trying to put this activity in a residential area.

Lewis goes on to say the Declarant and Executive Board will prohibit Rainbow House's use of the units as a business and/or residence. Lewis said the board also has "reserved the right of self help to abate and remove such violation including physically entering the property which shall not be a trespass" and begin foreclosure. 

The proposal was scheduled for a public hearing at Tuesday's Columbia Board of Adjustment meeting, but the board received a request to table the proposal from the applicant and instead hold the hearing at the August meeting. Martha John, Chair of the Board, said she assumes the Rainbow House wants more time to prepare its case. 

"We haven't formed any opinions," John said. "We have to wait until we actually hear the case and get all the facts before we make any judgment one way or another."

KOMU 8 News reached out to the Rainbow House for comment but didn't receive an answer.