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Council approves homeless shelter permit

COVINGTON - The Covington City Council approved a special-use permit to allow Rainbow Ministries to open a homeless shelter on Turner Lake Circle on Monday night.

The permit was for a nonprofit public assembly facility at the property, zoned highway commercial, and was approved without discussion.

The city committed $1.08 million last year to purchase the property, which includes three buildings, and for repairs.

The Rev. Clara Lett, director of Rainbow Ministries, was recently arrested and charged with simple battery in connection with a January incident involving a physical altercation with a woman at the shelter at its current location on Hemlock Street in Porterdale.

Lett's granddaughter, Ashley Kenyatta Derricho, was also arrested and charged with battery.

Shortly following Lett's arrest, Covington Mayor Kim Carter said the city's involvement with the shelter ended with the

donation of the money and the city has no input on whether Lett remains director.

"The city of Covington cannot comment on the plans or the operations of the homeless shelter. Our only part was the grant of $1.08 million to the Housing Authority. From that point onward, the project is the responsibility of Ms. Lett. In fact, as I understand it, we cannot even tell the Housing Authority what to do with the funds," Carter said.

Lett has said she expects to move into the new location in March or April.

In other news, the council approved a rezoning from R-2 (single-family residential) to PUD (planned unit development) for Odum Grove subdivision off Odum Street, in the North Covington Historic District.

Developer Abe Abouhamdan, with ABE Consulting Inc., is proposing a retirement community rather than the single-family development initially planned.

The change would increase the density of the project and increase lot yield from 29 lots to 40 lots, but developers will also be preserving more greenspace and including walking trails for residents, Planning and Zoning Director Shelley Stiebling said.

They are also increasing minimum house sizes from the 1,000 square feet required to 1,400 square feet.

Residents in the area said they are concerned about the number of houses in the new plan and wanted assurance the developer would maintain the roads, but were otherwise satisfied with the plan.

Finally, the council approved a special-use petition for an outdoor florist at 5177 Floyd St., located within the Historic District and zoned for single-family residential.

Applicants Nicole Rushin and Molly Shappell will open a business called The Potting Shed that will include a floral and potting delivery service and outdoor retail sales on-site.

The business will operate from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@ newtoncitizen.com.