Newspaper boxes are back in the news, with a downtown business owner saying this week that he saw city of Asheville workers removing boxes from a downtown sidewalk late one night, and this morning, some Downtown Commission members questioning the right of newspapers to place their boxes downtown with any legal protection.
Almost 50 newspaper boxes from a variety of publications are missing from downtown Asheville, with some having mysteriously disappeared in recent weeks. Both city staff and representatives of some of the publications have no idea who is behind the disappearances. File photo by Max Cooper.
Pushcart vendors made progress on one of their demands today, as the Downtown Commission unanimously endorse extending their hours to 2 a.m. The commission talked about the vendors' proposals, as well as the Business Improvement District, possible newspaper box restrictions and other issues.
At a meeting with newspaper representatives this morning, Downtown Commission members and city of Asheville planners presented ideas for restrictions on newspaper boxes, including limiting locations, height, and how many could be grouped together. The commission hopes to test the voluntary rules over the next 45 days.
According to the results of an open records request from Xpress, Marsha Stickford, the city of Asheville's neighborhood coordinator, only received one email about the state of newspaper boxes during the past year, and that wasn't a complaint. At a Feb. 2 meeting with newspaper publishers discussing possible restrictions on the boxes, Stickford claimed that she received numerous complaints, but couldn't produce them because she deleted the emails. (photo by Bill Rhodes)
At a sometimes tense meeting this afternoon, representatives from local publications — including Xpress — met with city staff, who broached possible restrictions on newspaper boxes in downtown Asheville. Also: A city staffer's deletion of citizen complaints about the boxes may have violated open-records law. (Photo by Bill Rhodes)
Last week, Buncombe County Manager Wanda Greene's office ordered the removal of 17 newspaper boxes in front of the courthouse, claiming they were unsightly. The move, according to North Carolina Press Association attorney Amanda Martin, was illegal and violates First Amendment protections on newspaper racks on public property. The newspaper boxes after their removal. Photos by Jeff Tallman
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