Item Coversheet
City of Independence
BILL NO. 21-0671R.

Agenda Title:

21-067 - 1R.  An ordinance amending the Unified Development Ordinance, Chapter 14, of the Independence City Code pertaining to Group Living Facilities.

Commissioner Michell motioned and Commissioner Ferguson seconded the motion to recommend approval. The Independence Planning Commission voted as follows:





Commissioner Young



Commissioner Ferguson




Commissioner Wiley



Commissioner Michell




Chairwoman McClain



Commissioner Preston



- Yes





The motion was approved 6-0 and such application is forwarded to the City Council for its consideration. 

Executive Summary:

The City proposes Amendment #51 of the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) regarding Group Living Facilities.


This amendment modifies language to the UDO that provides the use of a homeless shelter through the Special Use Permit process.


A major concern for officials and staff has been the population of those in our community without shelter. Independence has not been alone in this endeavor to find solutions, staff has found several of our neighboring communities to either have passed new ordinances or are considering code changes to address the unhoused population.  The City has already seen multiple homeless camps arise in various parts of our community and we have seen homelessness place further strain on emergency services that were fully tasked with the COVID-19 pandemic.   Staff feels it is critical to review our current code related to Group Living Facilities and provide clear standards when providing shelter and resources to those who may be chronically or temporarily homeless.


Amendments to the current UDO Article 4 Section 14-404-04 includes the requirement of a Special Use Permit in accordance with Section 14-704 to operate a homeless shelter.  This Section also requires minimum standards that shall be provided when considering the Special Use Permit. The twelve minimum standards are as follows:


1.      The building housing the homeless shelter must be at least 30,000 square feet in size.

2.      The homeless shelter shall serve a maximum of thirty (30) homeless individuals with adequate space for sleeping per occupant in accordance with currently adopted building codes.

3.      The property where the homeless shelter is located must be within one-half (1/2) mile of a public transportation stop or the homeless shelter must have reliable access to transportation.

4.      The homeless shelter shall have at least two (2) employees and/or volunteers on the premises during all operational hours for the first ten (10) guests and one (1) additional employee and/or volunteer for every ten (10) additional guests, or any portion thereof.  An alternative staffing plan may be approved as part of the special use permit where the applicant demonstrates adequate supervision of the guests.

5.      Prior to establishing a homeless shelter, an application for and approval of a new certificate of occupancy is required, including compliance with all building and fire codes.

6.      Any provision of food or feeding operations shall comply with Chapter 11 of the City Code.

7.      A facility operating a donation bin(s) or donation center shall comply with the requirements of Section 14-422. 

8.      The exterior appearance of the building and property on which a homeless shelter is located shall be maintained in accordance with applicable property maintenance, building and zoning requirements.

9.      There shall be no loitering immediately around or on the grounds of the facility.

10.  A management plan that contains/addresses the following items shall be submitted with any application to establish the homeless shelter use and be approved prior to commencing the use. The management plan shall be integral to the operation of the facility and binding on the operator. Failure of the operator to comply with the approved management plan shall be considered a violation of this code.

a.       A narrative description of the nature and characteristics of the use and descriptions of all supportive services provided.

b.      A transportation plan describing how guests will be transported to and from the site.

c.       An interior floor plan showing sleeping areas, common areas, kitchen and bathroom facilities, and emergency exits.

d.      An emergency / security plan that addresses security for staff, volunteers and guests as well as how responses to medical and other emergencies will be handled.

e.       An outline of the "Rules of Conduct" for guests.

f.        A communication plan that establishes how the shelter will regularly communicate with neighbors and the police.

g.      A staffing plan noting the number of employees per guest during daytime and nighttime operating hours.

11.  When establishing the maximum number of homeless individuals served under the special use permit the City Council shall consider various factors, including but not limited to:

a.       The operational characteristics of the proposed shelter as outlined in the Management Plan.

b.      The size of the building housing the homeless shelter.

c.       The character of the area, including but not limited to proximity to residences, commercial businesses, schools, and public transportation.

12.  The special use permit for the operation of a homeless shelter may be amended, suspended or revoked in accordance with Section 14-704.


Staff believes the proposed amendment will better serve our community and help mitigate the development of homeless camps and provide the possibility of consistent resources to those who may need it the most.


Planning Commission meeting minutes:

"Case 21-175-07– UDO Amendment #51 – Group Living Facilities

Staff Presentation

Rick Arroyo presented that the amendment would modify the section of the UDO as it relates to Group Living Facilities, specifically homeless shelters. Currently the code combines homeless shelters in with abuse treatment facilities, halfway houses, soup kitchens, and recovery centers.  The existing code is also restrictive regarding where a homeless shelter can be placed.  This amendment would place homeless shelters into their own category under the Special Use Permit rules.  A new section would be created, 14-404-04.  There are criteria outlined as standards that would need to be followed.


Public Comments

No public comments.


Commissioner Comments

Chairwoman McClain asked if the number of restrooms will be part of this code.  Mr. Arroyo stated they will still have to get an occupancy permit for the building, which will determine how many people can be in the building and what is needed for that building. 


In response to Commissioner Michell’s question, Mr. Arroyo stated there is criteria under the Special Use Permit that requires the building to meet the conformity and character of the neighborhood. Commissioner Michell went on to ask about the 30,000 square feet/30 people limit and why those numbers.  Mr. Arroyo advised 30,000 square feet can be the entire building. When looking at churches, for example, a basement may be 10,000 square feet and can fit more than 30 people but when adding beds and other facilities it reduces the number of people.


Commissioner Young recommended language be changed for criteria number two (2) of the UDO amendment.


Commissioner Michell provided language as “A maximum of 30 homeless individuals with adequate space for sleeping per individual in accordance with the currently adopted building code.”  Commissioner Michell commented the updated language would mention the current building code; in the event building code should change the language in the amendment would encompass that.



Commissioner Michell made a motion to approve Case 21-175-07 – UDO Amendment #51 – Group Living Facilities, with the modifications as stated by the Commission.  Commissioner Ferguson seconded the motion.  The motion passed with six affirmative votes."

Department:          Community DevelopmentContact Person:          Tom Scannell

Community Development DepartmentApproved
Finance DepartmentApproved
City Managers OfficeApproved
City Clerk DepartmentApproved

Council Action:          Council Action:         

Draft OrdinanceOrdinance
Staff ReportBackup Material
UDO AmendmentBackup Material