FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Property owners Richard and Gladys Tiffany are facing charges for allowing unsheltered people to live on their property without a permit.
The Tiffany’s have been housing homeless people outside a property they own near the Fayetteville National Cemetery for over a decade. It all started when a disabled Vietnam vet moved into a home on his property. The vet asked if a homeless person could stay on the porch. Richard said yes, as long as they didn’t bother anyone.
Even after the Vietnam vet died, Richard kept allowing homeless people to stay on the property. It started with a few and now a little over 10 people live on the property each night.
Both Richard and Gladys are glad to be helping members of the community and want to keep offering it as a safe place for people who need it.
In October, Richard said he received a letter from the Fayetteville planning department. It said the definition of what a campground is had changed. Under the definition, the Tiffany’s would have to apply for a conditional use permit.
After being approached by the city, Richard refused to apply for a permit. He said he shouldn’t have to.
“I think they were setting me up to deny permission from the beginning. I’m not running a campground,” Richard said.
This comes after the city received a number of complaints from people living in the apartments and homes nearby. The ordinance review committee met on March 15 to discuss alternative definitions for a campground. During that meeting, members of the public showed up to address their concerns.
People against the homeless living on the property complained of things like litter, disorderly conduct, yelling and drinking. Some said they didn’t feel safe.
City Attorney, Kit Williams, said something needed to be done to resolve the issue.
“We owe a duty also to the neighbors, including people living in houses or apartments nearby, as well as the federal cemetery, to not allow this become such a nuisance that it’s intolerable for those groups,” Williams said.
Since the Tiffany’s won’t apply for a permit, Williams said the city prosecutor has pressed charges. An arraignment has already been held and the first trial date is set for April 26.
The ordinance review committee is still reviewing definitions to try to see if any will change related to what a campground is.
Gladys said the homeless in the area are past the crisis stage. Although she’s glad the city is recognizing the issue, she said something needs to happen soon.
“It’s one thing to sympathize with them. It’s another thing to put the effort and the thought into doing things that will actually resolve the problem for them,” Gladys said.