MARTINSBURG - The Shalom Resource Center is saying it was unfairly held liable for criminal activity that transpired on its premises and has filed a petition for a writ of certiorari and judicial review of an agency decision.

The papers were filed Dec. 14 in Berkeley Circuit Court against the Martinsburg Board of Zoning Appeals.

Shalom said it was held responsible for illegally parked cars and domestic disputes that "would in no way be affected by the operation of the Shalom Resource Center.

"There were no arrests on the premises of the Shalom Resource Center, and none of the individuals who used the services offered by Shalom were arrested in any of the incidents reported."

The complaint also says that discriminatory attitudes were taken toward homeless people, sparking neighbors to take pictures of them leaving Shalom and make claims that the center was being used for habitation.

"These individuals were no different than customers entering and leaving any other place of business on Winchester Ave.," the complaint says.

After a public hearing on Nov. 14, the board amended an original ruling and cut their services in half because of the police investigations and added that any violation of the amended restrictions would result in an automatic revocation of the center's original exception, the complaint says.

Shalom is a peer support center for the unemployed, underemployed and homeless. It says it provides a place for those people to get a cup of coffee, take a shower and wash a load of laundry so they can be clean for a job interview.

"Since the Nov. 14 decision of the zoning board, the Shalom Resource Center has gone from helping 25-30 people per day to only helping between 10-15 per day," the complaint says.

"After hearing testimony, the board erroneously concluded that the Shalom Resource Center was operating with characteristics of residential habitation. There was no evidence presented at the hearing that one person has stayed overnight at the Shalom Resource Center during the entire time of its existence."

John McFarland of Legal Aid of West Virginia is representing Shalom.

Judge David Sanders has been assigned the case.

Berkeley Circuit Court case number 06-C-922

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