SOUTH SALT LAKE — Amid monthlong delays that have stalled the groundbreaking of the South Salt Lake homeless shelter — and a looming deadline that would cause the facility to fall into state hands — city officials say they’ve overcome issues and expect the project to move forward next week.
"I think everything’s on track," South Salt Lake Mayor Cherie Wood said Friday.
After a tense meeting earlier this month between city and state officials called to sort out technical problems delaying permitting for the 300-bed men’s shelter at 3380 S. 1000 West, Wood said she had a plan to get the delayed shelter back on track.
The needed planning materials were submitted on time, Wood said, which cleared the way for the South Salt Lake Planning Commission to have two work meetings this week ahead of two special public hearings planned for Tuesday and Thursday.
If all goes smoothly, the planning commission is expected to approve the site’s subdivision plat and conditional use permit at the end of those two public hearings, Wood said.
"I believe we are headed in the right direction within the time frame," she said.
Some council members worried if South Salt Lake didn’t solve the technical issues holding up the permitting — including uncertainty with the 1000 West right-of-way boundaries because old county records of the property had been lost — the city could lose any say in the project.
Due to a reverter clause in the site’s purchase agreement, ownership of the site could revert from Shelter the Homeless, the nonprofit building the shelter, to the state if it doesn’t break ground before June 30.
Councilman Mark Kindred, who had been initially skeptical South Salt Lake could sort out the problems in time, said he’s he’s now optimistic the city will meet the deadline.
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"It sounds like things have shaken loose," he said. "I’m crossing my fingers."
But meanwhile, state officials are moving on a "parallel track" to step in if it appears South Salt Lake leaders don’t approve the needed permits in time for groundbreaking, said Jonathan Hardy, director of Housing and Community Development in the state’s Department of Workforce Services.
Hardy, as he has indicated previously, said "the proof will be in the pudding."
"I’ll be pleasantly surprised if we can get it accomplished with South Salt Lake next week, but I think we have the means to meet our timeline either way," Hardy said.
The same state law that allocated $20 million in state funding for construction of the South Salt Lake shelter and two others in Salt Lake City also mandates the Road Home’s downtown homeless shelter shutter by June 30, 2019 — so officials have said all three shelters must be up and running by then, and delay is not an option.
In this week’s Shelter the Homeless board meeting, contractors said they hope to start the project by the first week of June. Though the South Salt Lake site’s official deadline is June 30, the state can step in "a little sooner" if need be, Hardy said.
South Salt Lake’s first public hearing Tuesday at 220 E. Morris Avenue will address the site’s subdivision plat application. Thursday’s hearing will address the facility’s conditional use permit application.