Veteran fights to keep organization's home

Posted at: 04/05/2013 6:25 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

A Rio Rancho man who has devoted his life and his property to helping homeless veterans is battling to keep his mission alive.

Shane D’Onofrio is fighting city hall, but Rio Rancho’s zoning chief says the city wants to help, not halt, his mission.

The name of D’Onofrio’s nonprofit veterans help group is “What Would U Give”. It’s founder, Navy veteran D’Onofrio, would give just about anything to get his zoning problems solved. Last month we profiled him as one of our Hometown Heroes.

“We try to get the guys to refocus their anger, hurt, pain – on something else other than drugs or alcohol,” D’Onofrio said on March 25. “They can stay clean where, get their jobs, get their benefits, go through our five step program.”

The trouble is that D’Onofrio’s headquarters is his home, and some of the things he’s doing to help veterans don’t fit Rio Rancho’s E-1 large lot residential zoning. So he needs a zoning change.

“We support his case,” Rio Rancho planning and zoning director John Castillo said. “It was sent to us and we reviewed the case. We prepared what’s called an agenda briefing memorandum and we’re recommending approval, so we support his actions.”

But what happens to What Would U Give isn’t up to just one person.

Rio Rancho’s Planning and Zoning Board will hear testimony and decide what they want to do on Tuesday, and then the city council will have the final say. Neighbors will get to stand up and speak their piece too.

In the meantime, it will be a weekend of waiting and worrying for D’Onofrio.

“I’m just trying to help my brothers and sisters,” D’Onofrio said in a phone call Friday afternoon. “That’s my life.”