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Joplin church seeks renewal of special use permit to house volun - KOAM TV 7

Joplin church seeks renewal of special use permit to house volunteers if needed in future

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JOPLIN, MISSOURI - Staff members at a church in Joplin request renewal of a special use permit to be prepared to house volunteers anytime assistance may be needed in the future.

It was the topic of a public zoning request hearing held at Joplin City Hall this evening.

While South Joplin Christian Church is not currently housing any volunteers, at one time, staff members had a full house.

Following the 2011 tornado in Joplin, church members worked to create a volunteer station, featuring several bunk beds, showers and living areas.

The church served as a temporary home for more than 1,400 volunteers between March of 2012, and when the station formally closed in August of 2014.

"It was good," said Kathryn Wilson, minister of mission and outreach. "We probably had volunteers from approximately 26 states."

In order to house the volunteers in a residential zone, the church was granted a special use permit from the city.

"There are some uses that you can't have in a residential area to protect the integrity of neighborhoods and safety of residents," said Taylor Cunningham, planner for the City of Joplin. "For volunteers staying overnight at this facility, you have to have a special use permit so that the neighborhood is aware of what's going on."

Church members are requesting to renew the special use permit for the next five years, hoping to house more volunteers if needed in the future.

"For our congregation, it was really a blessing and a joy to be able to house our volunteers and be able to show our hospitality on behalf of the Joplin community," Wilson said.

City officials say the proactive approach of the church staff members in handling all the legwork ahead of time could be a huge help in a time of need.

"Our area of the country is so prone to disaster and we saw that in Joplin, obviously, in 2011," Cunningham said. "Having facilities like South Joplin Christian Church prepared to house people who might come in is only going to benefit the city."

The Joplin City Council is scheduled to vote on approval of the zoning request on June 1.
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