Morganton couple cited for homeless encampment on their property

A possible standoff is brewing between Morganton city leaders and property owners who are allowing some homeless people to camp on their site.
A possible standoff is brewing between Morganton city leaders and property owners who are...
A possible standoff is brewing between Morganton city leaders and property owners who are allowing some homeless people camp on their site.(WBTV)
Published: Mar. 16, 2022 at 6:03 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 16, 2022 at 7:15 PM EDT
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MORGANTON, N.C. (WBTV) - A possible standoff is brewing between Morganton city leaders and property owners who are allowing some homeless people to camp on their site.

Now, the city has issued a violation notice wanting corrective measures taken. But the owners are standing their ground saying they’ll take the fight through the court system.

“It’s not a campground, it’s a home,” Joseph Bateman said.

Joseph Bateman and his wife Victoria own several acres of land just outside of downtown Morganton.

It’s a quiet and peaceful homestead. The problem as the city sees it, is who is currently occupying the land.

When officials shut down a homeless camp a few miles from the Bateman’s farm, many of the residents had nowhere to turn.

The Batemans’ allowed several people to set up camp on their property, even supplying their basic needs. But then - the word got out.

“The city has sent me a letter.” Joseph Bateman said. “A notice of violation for having a campground in my backyard.”

The city has to enforce its ordinances.” said city attorney Louis Vinay Jr.

The city says it’s a zoning problem, and they’re giving the Bateman’s a timeframe to do something about it.

“To be able to enforce the zoning ordinance or any other ordinance fairly, you’ve got to enforce it universally…everywhere,” Vinay stated.

Bateman says he’d like to see the folks on his property go on to permanent housing, even a farm where they can raise their own food and become a self-sustaining collective. But he says the help for everyone just isn’t there.

“There is no support, there is no help. It’s very frustrating to me to get pushback to help these folks who don’t have help.” Bateman told WBTV’s Ron Lee.

Robbie Ashley has been on the streets for several years, finding refuge on the Bateman farm. He’s asking for something from the city - that may be in short supply.

“Please just give us time to get the path or direction and let Joe help us as long as we need,” Ashley said.

Floyd Bethea lives out on the farm with his fiancé. He says his hope for his future – is a simple one.

“No worries, no fears. Don’t have to worry about anything.”

Several people at the site say they’re planning on speaking at the next city council meeting to plea their case. They want to come up with a plan before time runs out.

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