Watertown lawmakers consider zoning changes to address city’s homeless problem

Watertown's zoning plan and the homeless
Published: Nov. 15, 2022 at 5:16 AM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - As Watertown revamps its zoning ordinance, the conversation again turns to how the city is addressing its growing homeless population.

At a city council work session on Monday night, city and contracted planners revealed changes that would affect where homeless warming centers can be established in the city.

The changes would redefine warming centers as “adult day cares,” restricting them to three specific districts — planned campus, urban mixed use, and neighborhood mixed use — and keep them out of residential areas.

Mayor Jeff Smith says there needs to be more discussions on the specified districts before it’s finalized.

“If somebody wants to put that warming shelter on Mullin Street or next too, or over here on Washington Street out front here, down by Mullin Street, is that where you want it? Is that what you want adjacent to developing commercial downtown?”

The city will have one more open house to get feedback on the zoning plan before the end of the year.

The draft will then be sent to the appropriate planning boards for approval.

It will likely be voted on at some point early next year.