Nonprofit clothing center looks to relocate to West Second Street neighborhood


Volunteers with the Jackson County Clothing Center have their eyes on a house in Seymour as a new location to provide free clothing to the poor.

On Aug. 13, the Seymour Plan Commission voted 6-5 to approve the nonprofit center’s request for a land use variance for the property at 708 W. Second St. The house, zoned R-3 for a multifamily dwelling, is right next to Kovener’s Korner ice cream shop.

Those voting against the request were Mark Hays, Rick Schleibaum, Dave Eggers, Bernie Hauersperger and Don Bruce.

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The request now goes before the board of zoning appeals at 7 p.m. Tuesday for a final vote.

The center currently operates out of a building at 207 N. Pine St. owned by Dr. Charles Calhoun. With Calhoun retiring and the need for more space, volunteer Sandra Royer said they had to find a new location.

During Thursday’s meeting, Royer represented the clothing center, which has served the community for the past 30 years. She has been involved for seven years, she said.

The center is supported financially by 12 local churches and through grants and endowment funds through the Community Foundation of Jackson County.

In 2019, the center served 485 families and logged 4,257 volunteer hours. After being closed for three months this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the center reopened in July and served 115 families in one month, Royer said.

“The people that we serve are the working poor, a lot of Social Security grandparents that are raising their grandchildren, Hispanic and Latino families and the disabled and mentally challenged,” Royer said.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the center has been seeing more nonessential workers use the facility to get clothing for their children, she said.

If approved, the new location would be open from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. Volunteers work on Thursdays to sort donations, and the center would be closed on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

“We picked the morning hours because it doesn’t interfere with Kovener’s, and they suggested we could park in their lot,” Royer said.

As far as parking needs go for those they serve, Royer said most of their clients walk, ride a bike or take the city’s public transit bus.

“So I don’t think it’s going to be an issue,” she said.

Wanting to be good neighbors, Royer said they are willing to discuss ways to be accepted into the neighborhood.

“We’d like to have the opportunity to have this facility,” she said. “It’s nice, it’s clean and it’s safe.”

Denise Siefker lives in the 600 block of West Second Street and said she has a clear view of 708 W. Second St. from her front porch.

Although she supports the clothing center’s mission, she doesn’t think the intended property is a good location for it.

Passing the center’s current location daily, Siefker said it is an eyesore because volunteers are not there to monitor it at all times.

“Just yesterday, I was driving home from work and saw more garbage bags and empty boxes outside in front of the building,” she said. “While people are instructed not to leave donated items outside while the center is closed, these instructions are ignored continuously.”

Siefker said donations left outside are rummaged through and thrown about by people.

“This mess can last for days, especially on the weekends,” she said. “It is especially distasteful when it rains as this creates an even bigger mess.”

Commissioner Bret Cunningham and President Don Myers Jr. asked if the clothing center would consider having a drop-off box for donations so items are kept out of sight.

Royer said it is an issue and she can’t promise that people won’t continue to drop stuff off, but she said the center could comply with that requirement.

“We started telling people if they drop it off and leave it, it’s going in the dumpster,” she said. “We’re not going to mess with it, especially with COVID. It’s unsafe.”

The residence at 708 W. Second St. has a porch, which will help some, Royer said.

“People have been really good to donate,” she said. “We are overwhelmed. We have so much. We can make improvements.”

When the center is open, Siefker said people line up and linger out front of the building. She also said there are a lot of cars parked in the area.

But some of the vehicle traffic is from Dr. Calhoun’s office and Exist Salon, Royer said.

Siefker and her neighbors don’t feel the clothing center has found the right location to operate.

“It needs to be somewhere with good parking and definitely not in a neighborhood setting,” she said.

Hays said he wondered why the clothing center didn’t try to locate closer to the demographic they serve.

With the cost to lease commercial properties in Seymour, Royer said it wasn’t a feasible option.

“This is affordable for us,” she said.

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What: Seymour Board of Zoning Appeals meeting

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Council chambers at Seymour City Hall, 301 N. Chestnut St.; enter through the back entrance off Third Street

On the agenda: Jackson County Clothing Center is requesting a land use variance to allow the use of the property at 708 W. Second St. as a nonprofit clothing center to distribute free clothes to the poor.

Who: The meeting is open to the public and press


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