Homeless camp one step closer to getting operating permit

Homeless camp one step closer to getting operating permit

A homeless camp in Escambia County is one step closer to being legally compliant. On Monday, a board allowed the site known as "Sean's Outpost" to move forward in the process of getting a permit to operate.

"There's been a lot of high fives and fist bumps," Michael Kimberl, the site's operator said. "They're very happy."

The people living on the nine acres of property on Massachusetts Avenue have been in limbo. In early 2016, the county ordered the site to take down tents because the site was not permitted to operate as a campground. Kimberl applied for a permit, but it was ultimately denied.

The matter was brought to a Circuit Court judge. In September, the judge ruled the permit should not have been denied. On Monday, the Board of Adjustment granted the Kimberl's appeal.

A spokesperson for the county said the action sets aside the prior denial. Kimberl said he is cautiously optimistic. One of the stipulations is that they have to put a 20-foot buffer around the property.

"We said there's no problem with that," Kimberl said. "We welcome planting more trees."

A spokesperson for the county said they need to pull permits to work on the improvements. Then, county inspectors have to approve the site before the final sign off.

For the people living nearby, that means there is still time to put up a fight. Neighbors have voiced their opposition at public hearings. Their main concern is that the campsite brings unwanted activity to their homes.

A spokesperson for the county said there is not a deadline for when the improvements have to be done.

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