The City of Montpelier is considering allowing homeless encampments after the State of Vermont ends its homeless housing program July 1 – but there will be limits, according to a proposed policy draft.
Under the proposed draft, the city and staff (including police) “will take a general non-involvement approach to any found camping sites. Staff will intervene and ask encampments to relocate if they are on privately owned land, in the identified high-sensitivity areas,” or if health and safety problems exist.
“High-sensitivity areas are locations where the health and safety impacts of homeless encampments have a heightened potential to degrade sensitive natural resources, critical infrastructure, or create significant obstruction to residences, businesses, emergency routes and rights-of-way,” the draft says. “The City of Montpelier requests that camp sites are not established in these high-sensitivity areas: Schools and adjoining grounds, Licensed daycare facilities (including City-run day camps), Park walking/biking trails/paths (camping is not permitted after dark in City Parks, per ordinance), Jurisdictional wetlands, waters, and waterways.”
The policy also prohibits encampments near homes and businesses: “50 feet of the property boundary of any off-site residents or business, 50 feet of the activity limits of a playground, public park, soccer field, baseball field, basketball court, tennis court or golf course. If the encampment includes an individual who is a registered sex offender, this boundary extends to 2,000 feet.”
Compliance “must balance the rights of encamped individuals against its fundamental duty to maintain public safety and public health,” the draft says.
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