In regular session Monday night, the Alvarado City Council rejected a request for rezoning in order to convert the old hospital into a battered women’s shelter.

In a telephone interview with the Post Tuesday, Brenda Ford, founder and director of A Higher Place Women’s Shelter said she had envisioned refurbishing the old hospital facility, located at 208 E. Purdom, into a safe house for battered women, with the help of private foundation grants.

Ford said she had established a long range goal of housing 40-50 clients in Alvarado and another location in the Keene-Joshua-Burleson area.

“I went before Planning and Zoning week before last,” said Ford. “They voted it down then, but told me I had the option of appearing before the city council. They said ‘no’ also.”

Ford said she thought she was filling out a form for a domestic, multi-family dwelling, but instead, she discovered that she had filed for commercial property instead.

“The neighborhood showed up enmass at Planning and Zoning to protest and, last night, at the city council too,” Alvarado Mayor Tom Durington said. “On the application for re-zoning, Brenda had put down that it was a homeless shelter instead of a shelter for women. We appreciate her heart for wanting to help people – that’s not what people were protesting. It was the fact that she was requesting that  the property be rezoned for commercial, and if that were to happen, that would mean that a (drive-in grocery) store or any other commercial establishment could go in there.”

Ford said she will continue to pursue grant requests to organizations with the goal of locating the women’s shelter in the facility in the Keene-Joshua-Burleson area.

A Higher Place Women’s Shelter, founded and directed by Ford, has been in operation since 2005. Ford opened the Classie Lassie Thrift Shop in December 2007 to help fund the shelter.