The homeless encampment on B Street in Waynesboro is here to stay – at least for now – despite a nearby resident saying her family feels “unsafe” in her own back yard.
Another nearby resident reached out to AFP via social media Thursday to report that at least a dozen people have made the woods off B Street a makeshift camp. He said there is an issue with panhandling and obstructing traffic in that area. He said he feels the property owner not taking action is “disrespectful to the neighbors.”
Waynesboro City Manager Mike Hamp confirmed to AFP Saturday that the property owner, Jim Critzer of Linco, Inc., is no longer requesting assistance from the Waynesboro Police Department for enforcement or trespassing.
Waynesboro Police officers and Critzer reportedly walked the property on Feb. 21 and only encountered one person.
“The property agent provided a notice to vacate the premises, and the individual was afforded 10 days to vacate the property. No other law enforcement action was taken,” said Waynesboro Police Department Captain Alyssa Zullig.
However, Critzer reached out to AFP Feb. 21 and said at the time that he might let the homeless encampment remain on his property despite the complaints because he has “compassion” for them.
A source reported to AFP last week that he was told Critzer asked the homeless people camping on the property to not to let anyone else join them. The source also said that a porta potty may be added to the property soon for the homeless living there.
The private property is zoned RG-5, or residential.
“The zoning does not allow full-time camping,” Waynesboro City Manager Mike Hamp told AFP.
“The matter is being referred to our Zoning Department for review and enforcement as appropriate,” said Hamp on Saturday.
A church in Waynesboro that also operated as a shelter for the homeless was forced to close after a zoning violation.
It is unclear whether this encampment will face the same fate – or if the property owner could face charges or fines.
Hamp said he isn’t immediately familiar with the penalties associated with violating the zoning ordinance – but has said he would research it and get back to AFP.
B Street resident Pamela Mitchell said she plans to file a complaint with the city zoning department. She said she also intends to reach out to the city manager and Waynesboro City Council requesting help.
“I hope he (Critzer) knows after all this he is taking on responsibility for all those people,” said Mitchell. “If something happens to my children, myself or my home, I will be seeking legal council.
“He should be held responsible now that he wants all these strangers living on his piece of land.”
Time’s up: Ten days pass, homeless remain at B Street encampment in Waynesboro
Evicted again: Police assisting B Street landowner with ‘trespass enforcement’ of homeless
Property owner responds: Has ‘compassion’ for homeless, will allow them to stay on land
Resident: Tent City evictees land at B Street encampment, ‘unsafe’ for children
Waynesboro homeowner says B Street homeless encampment ‘not safe’
Waynesboro had a day shelter for the homeless; it was shut down due to zoning