Businessman says church's homeless camp drives businesses away - WKRN News 2

Businessman says church's homeless camp drives businesses away

Posted: Updated:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -

A church calls it the Lord's work. A Nashville businessman calls it a health and safety violation that is driving businesses away.

For the past year, a tent camp has been set up in the parking lot of the Green Street Church of Christ.

Church members refer to the make shift community as a sanctuary, however Bobby Joslin, a well-known business man, claims people are loitering and drinking alcohol during the day.

Joslin owns property in the area and told Nashville's News 2 Investigates that he expects to lose thousands of dollars this year because tenants are moving out due to the homeless camp.

"People are lying around during the day time, during work hours," he said. "They have a multitude of codes violations and they seem to disregard the law."

Nashville's News 2 Investigates visited the church with Joslin on Tuesday. Upon our arrival we see a man filling up a radiator container with water from a hose in the front of the church.

"They clean their dishes right there and they take their showers right there. Their baths," Joslin said.

The camp is also filled with more than a dozen tents, grills, a clothesline, two port-a-potties and a makeshift meeting area beside the church with seats pulled out of vehicles.

"There are animals living better than the way these people live in these tents," Joslin said, adding, "These are just renegades. They don't want to follow any rules or regulations."

Nashville's News 2 Investigates spoke with a long time business owner who asked not to be identified.

He said he plans to relocate because the nearby camp is a constant eyesore.

"I'm embarrassed to bring clients here, having to explain all the time what is going on over there," he said.

Attorney Tripp Hunt represents the more than 100-year-old church which was founded in part by David Lipscomb.

"We have a history of helping the homeless. One day some homeless asked if it was ok to put a tent here and as a ministry they said ok. They feel they do have an obligation to protect and keep the sanctuary to brethren camped out there now."

He added, "According to the scripture, Matthew 25, if you help unfortunate or someone need shelter, you are helping Jesus. They say they have no other option under religious beliefs to help these people."

According to Hunt, Joslin is the only businessman complaining about the tent camp. He also disputed his claims that Joslin is losing business due to the homeless on Green Street.

"They are here because it is one of the safest places to pitch a tent and escape the drugs and alcohol and sex and thefts," Hunt said, adding, "The church board of deacons that run this sanctuary says if anyone is doing that, they are ejected. There is no other place to go that is not illegal for them and this church relies on religious views and has no choice."

Hunt told News 2 Investigates an architect is currently designing a new building that will soon be attached to the church and will contain bathrooms and washing machines. A privacy fence is also in the works.

He added the church has no intention of removing the tent camp.

"So as long as people need sanctuary, the church will grant it," Hunt said. "There is no plan on ending it."

Nashville's News 2 Investigates contacted Metro Codes, Zoning and Health Departments after speaking with Joslin and Hunt.

Each agency said there are issues at the church that need correction.

Bill Herbert at the Metro Zoning Department said his agency is currently working with the church to correct safety and health violations such as cars parked on the car, people sleeping in vehicles and no fire extinguishers in areas where meals are prepared.

According to Herbert, tents are typically prohibited in industrial zones, which is where the church is located, but state and federal law gives more latitude to a church that is following mandate and doctrines of religious beliefs.

The Metro Health Department is also looking into issues at the camp. On April 4, inspectors noted concerns such as coffee pots designed for indoor use being used outside and ponding water from the hose which is a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

The Zoning Department reported the church has requested an additional 90 days to come into compliance with some zoning issues.

The legal department is currently evaluating the church's request for an extension.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Mom bites off dog's ear to save daughter during attack

    Mom bites off dog's ear to save daughter during attack

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 2:49 PM EDT2014-04-22 18:49:19 GMT
    Image from CNN/KHOU-TVImage from CNN/KHOU-TV
    In a backyard in Alvin, swings a very lucky girl. Her name is Mackenzi Plass, or Kenzi for short, and she survived a dog attack and has undergone several surgeries."She'll be two and a half in May," said her very proud mother Chelsi Camp. "She's doing great. You wouldn't know it if you couldn't see."Mackenzi has scars on her face after the ordeal just weeks ago that put her mother's animal instincts to the test."You do whatever you can," said Camp. "I don't have physical strength at my side."...More >>
    In a backyard in Alvin, swings a very lucky girl. Her name is Mackenzi Plass, or Kenzi for short, and she survived a dog attack and has undergone several surgeries."She'll be two and a half in May," said her very proud mother Chelsi Camp. "She's doing great. You wouldn't know it if you couldn't see."Mackenzi has scars on her face after the ordeal just weeks ago that put her mother's animal instincts to the test."You do whatever you can," said Camp. "I don't have physical strength at my side."...More >>
  • Baby found alive in trash can, SC woman charged

    Baby found alive in trash can, SC woman charged

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 7:35 AM EDT2014-04-22 11:35:31 GMT
    A Greenville woman is accused of attempted murder and willful neglect after police say she dumped her newborn son in a trash can moments after giving birth. The child is alive and stable at an area hospital. Reports show 28 year old Sharon Ferguson gave birth inside a vacant home on Chaney Street in the Nicholtown community. They say after, she wrapped the boy in a plastic bag and a blanket and placed him in the trash can near the back of the house. Police say she then walked to a Laurens Ro...More >>
    A Greenville woman is accused of attempted murder and willful neglect after police say she dumped her newborn son in a trash can moments after giving birth. The child is alive and stable at an area hospital. Reports show 28 year old Sharon Ferguson gave birth inside a vacant home on Chaney Street in the Nicholtown community. They say after, she wrapped the boy in a plastic bag and a blanket and placed him in the trash can near the back of the house. Police say she then walked to a Laurens Ro...More >>
  • $90K, 80lbs of pot found in Nashville man's home, storage unit

    $90K, 80lbs of pot found in Nashville man's home, storage unit

    Danny Hopkins, 54, was arrested after police found thousands of dollars in cash and marijuana stashed inside his car, east Nashville home, and west Nashville storage unit.

    More >>

    Danny Hopkins, 54, was arrested after police found thousands of dollars in cash and marijuana stashed inside his car, east Nashville home, and west Nashville storage unit.

    More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WKRN (Young Broadcasting station). All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.