Residents of the Ivywild south of downtown Colorado Springs were shocked recently when the city Planning Commission declared invalid a 2002 compromise over a halfway house for women on South Tejon Street.
The agreement between the neighborhood, the city and the property owner called for the house at 1411 S. Tejon St. to serve only women. Here are maps of the neighborhood.
So neighbors appealed to the City Council. Female ex-cons were deemed OK because they generally are less violent and aggressive than men, in the minds of neighbors.
After a two-and-a-half hour debate last week, the City Council agreed with the neighborhood. In the process, the council rejected the opinion of the city attorney who argued the gender-based restriction on the property was “unenforceable.”
Here is a photo of the house as it looked when it operated as Liza’s Place for women.
Prison minister Bennie Belton is discouraged that his plans for housing eight men in the house were rejected. He said he was inspired by God to work with men.
He may simply move in four male ex-cons, along with a fulltime supervisor. The city only regulates houses where six or more unrelated adults live. And he may sue the city over the women-only rule.
Neighbors, meanwhile, are upset that they’ve been portrayed as uncaring or un-Christian for rejecting men. The neighbors note they have accepted the women for six years and they feel it’s unfair to criticize them for sticking to the compromise negotiated in 2002.