A letter to the community from Interim City Manager Cathy Ball:
We understand that people are concerned about recent public health and safety reports involving the West Asheville community. In response to those concerned I am providing the following information.
The City has issued Notice of Violations to the four organizations operating from 610 Haywood and the property owners. This includes Firestorm Books, Kairos West, The Steady Collective and 12 Baskets (Asheville Poverty Initiative), and the property owners. The City is not shutting down the operations of these tenants. We have issued Notice of Violations (NOV), which are a routine part of City process. The NOV is a tool to make the organizations aware of violations to the Unified Development Ordinance. Staff will work with each organization to help them understand the violations and options for how to become compliant.
Buncombe County Health and Human Services received public health complaints about activities in this area. City staff received several complaints from neighboring businesses, schools and residents. The City received complaints verbally from residents, anonymously through the Asheville App and has seen an increase in calls for service to the Asheville Police Department.
The complaints centered around health and public safety concerns. Specifically, the City received complaints about the following activities: loitering, camping, finding hypodermic needles littered on neighboring properties, witnessing intravenous drug use in public, defecating on neighboring properties, and harassment of neighboring businesses’ patrons, students and residents.
The City of Asheville values organizations providing services to the community. Staff are committed to helping organizations understand how to remain compliant in order to provide necessary services to the public. City staff have worked across departments to alleviate concerns of neighbors. Community Development convened several meetings between staff, neighbors and tenants. APD is in conversation with 12 Baskets about how to build relationships with their service recipients. And Planning & Zoning staff respond to complaints as part of a routine City process.
Staff will continue to work with the community to address the health and safety concerns in this area, and will schedule follow-up meetings with businesses and property owners as requested.
Interim City Manager