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Commission OKs plans for homeless womens facility
Rezoning plans for bed and breakfast also were approved
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A Gainesville shelter for homeless women is ready to build a transitional home to get women back into the working world.

The Hall County planning commission approved plans Monday for Changing Lanes to add a second location to its temporary housing program.

"We target underprivileged women on the south side of Gainesville," said Shannon Imes, who founded the nonprofit in September. "This helps local women who are going through abuse situations, drugs and prostitution. We give them a place to call home."

Destiny's Place, located on East Ridge Road, houses women between ages 17 and 25 for an eight-week program of intensive therapy and medical care.

The women take this time to look for a job, save their money and learn life skills such as cooking and child care.

The next phase, Qamir's Way on Travis Drive, will feature a 12-week program to help the women move to a daily independent lifestyle.

The group has helped 30 women since September, and the new home will add six to 12 beds, depending on funding.

"Funding is a problem, but we're maintaining," Imes said.

"I'll start this one the same way we started the first one. I pick up a hammer and nails and start crying, and people come to help."

The planning commission approved a zoning change of residential-II to planned residential development.

"I don't see anything wrong with this. It's a good thing she does," said Dan Smallwood, chairman of the planning commission.

"It's difficult to fund, I know, but what she's asking to do is not unreasonable and a new house would really improve that corner lot."

In addition, the planning commission approved a zoning request by Terry and Marie Dawson to turn their Dahlonega Highway home into a bed and breakfast.

The 2006 home, modeled after a family home built in Mississippi in 1890, will feature four suites with separate bathrooms.

"We have a big family and built this home so people could come and enjoy the same ambience I enjoyed as a child in my grandparents' house," Marie Dawson said Monday. "People have commented on how welcoming the house is, and this would be great to do in our retirement years."

The couple plans to open their Clermont home within a year once they add two bathrooms and obtain building permits.

"It's a unique home and very historical in appearance though it's a new residence with new heating, air conditioning and indoor plumbing," Marie Dawson said. "We love to entertain, and we love people, so this is the perfect match."

The Hall County Board of Commissioners will vote on both zoning changes April 28.