Zoning Commission denies request to turn East Side church into migrant shelter

District 2 Councilwoman, Precinct 4 Commissioner opposed to idea

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SAN ANTONIO – In an 8-3 vote, the city's Zoning Commission voted Tuesday night against turning a portion of Second Baptist Church on the East Side into a migrant shelter for boys.

District 2 Councilwoman Jada Andrews-Sullivan, who opposes the idea, said the commission's decision was based on guidelines set by the city.

"It just did not fit the master plan of that area," Andrews-Sullivan said. "You look at exactly what that area has been zoned for. It has been zoned for residential or arts and commercial use."

Related: Community leaders, church members clash over proposed migrant shelter on East Side

Andrews-Sullivan said to allow the church to become a shelter, it would have to be rezoned as a detention center.

"The children that will be housed there are not able to leave. They're locked up; they're under secure lock-up for 24 hours a day, seven days a week," she said.

Bexar County Precinct 4 Commissioner Tommy Calvert also opposes the idea, saying the facility could pose a threat.

"Because of the location being right on top of homes, and the need for fencing, the zoning really does require fencing, which the church doesn't have," Calvert said.

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Jeff Bender, a spokesman for Visionquest, the company that wants to run the migrant shelter, said the company is not seeking to turn the church into a detention center.

"The words, 'detention center,' never came up," he said. "We also have to remember the church has voted twice ... in favor of this."

Church officials declined to comment, only saying options are being discussed.

Despite the Zoning Commission vote, the City Council ultimately will decide the request. A vote is scheduled for Nov. 15.

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David Ibañez has been managing editor of KSAT.com since the website's launch in October 2000.