Asheville bars man from city buildings

A Maxwell Street resident known for railing against Greenlife Grocery’s use of that street has been barred from Asheville city buildings without a prior appointment—and an escort.

Reid Thompson, who for the past few years has hounded City Council to enforce rules regarding the unloading of delivery trucks across the street from his house, received a letter dated Nov. 6 from City Manager Gary Jackson that reads, in part:

“I regret to inform you that you are prohibited from visiting all City owned buildings without a set appointment made with [the] City Manager’s office and accompanied by an escort.”

The restriction applies to all city properties, including City Hall, all recreation areas and the Asheville Civic Center. And while the letter cites “continued inappropriate behavior and comments to City Staff on November 5, 2007,” Thompson says he is confounded by the measure and has not gotten specifics about what event the letter refers to.

“If I have done something, tell me what I have done,” Thompson says, adding that his only interaction with city staff on that day was with an Asheville Police officer whom he called to check on a break-in at one of his rental homes.

A previous letter, from City Attorney Bob Oast to Paul Bidwell, an attorney for Thompson in his case against Greenlife, reads in part: “members of the City staff have advised me that Mr. Thompson has on several occasions confronted them about the Greenlife/Maxwell Street issues and behaved in a manner that has caused them to be concerned for their safety.” That letter, dated Oct. 22, warns of further action if more complaints are reported about Thompson.

Neither the City Manager Gary Jackson nor Assistant City Attorney Curt Euler would give specifics in the case, citing legal issues like confidentiality and the possibility of further legal action by Thompson. But, Euler told Xpress, “Some of the behavior borders on the criminal.”

Jackson said the restriction was imposed in order to “provide for the safety of city employees,” and said that similar restrictions have been meted out to others in the past. The process, he said, involved a recommendation made by a city safety committee.

Meanwhile, Euler stresses that the notification does not constitute an outright ban, but rather restricted access to city facilities. “It requires you give prior notification before you come by,” he told Xpress.

For Thompson, the experience feels like another attempt to get him to back down from his fight to get the city to take action in the Greenlife matter. “They are just trying to put something else on my plate,” he said. “They are trying to distract my attention.”

Visit www.mountainx.com/news/2007/asheville_bars_man_from_city_buildings to download copies of the letters sent to Thompson.

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