West Asheville man evicted after long-running battle with city

Police evicted Gabriel and Livia Ferrari from their home at 22 Sulphur Springs Road in West Asheville Wednesday, an action that ended the couple’s decades-long battle with the city over the upkeep of their property at the intersection of Sulphur Springs and Haywood roads.

Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department deputies and Asheville Police Department officers evicted the Ferraris for unpaid property taxes. The Ferraris also had a long-standing argument with the city of Asheville over building safety code and sign violations. As far back as 1989, the city fought the Ferraris over everything from an unvented gas heater to religious signs that plastered the front yard of their home, known for its odd angles, turrets and corrugated metal. The Ferraris also kept goats and pigeons, junk cars and rusty drums on the property.

Outside the Buncombe County Courthouse Thursday morning, Ferrari told the Mountain Xpress that “the entire situation is a gross violation of the law, a brutal display of terrorism. This is against property dedicated to the Heavenly Father.” Ferrari described what he called a government conspiracy against him as two sheriff’s deputies stood nearby and watched closely. “The government treats people with terror and contempt and they’ve become Satan dictators,” he said.

Court documents show that Buncombe County initiated foreclosure proceedings against the Ferraris for several years of unpaid property taxes, and the land went up for public sale in November 2006. The winning bidder didn’t follow through on the purchase, so the property was put up for another public sale in August 2007. Potential buyers engaged in a bid and counter-bid process until the property was sold to Buncombe Realty on Feb. 20 for $155,132, according to court records.

Buncombe County Clerk of Court Bob Christy said Thursday that the Ferraris were due $122,000 after paying various fees. But the Ferraris refused to take the check, Christy said.

In the blustery cold outside the courthouse, Ferrari said he planned to live in a local shelter until he could mount an appeal. “We are frozen and hungry. We understand now how Christ suffered.”

— Jason Sandford, multimedia editor

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39 thoughts on “West Asheville man evicted after long-running battle with city

  1. Wow. This house has been a West Asheville mainstay for years and I can’t imagine it any different way. I hope something can be worked out.

  2. popsicle

    i feel uncharacteristically patriotic. in this country, you can be crazy and annoy your neighbors as long as you pay your taxes. and you can think the government is satan, and you are christ, and you can stand outside the courthouse and say without penalty these nutty things in front of sheriff’s deputies and anybody who’ll listen. this is the feel-good story of the year.

  3. Great. I guess this will become five bland green houses now, and a landmark in the neighborhood will be gone.

    I am saddened.

  4. Johnny

    How come, Jason? I appreciate the character of the house and all, but they didn’t pay their taxes, and everybody’s gotta pay. What am I missing?

  5. I don’t know why, but there is something nice about these people being handed a check for 122,000 and refusing to take it. They have a point in some weird way. The land was their’s. They own it. They weren’t renting.

    It amazes me that the city took something that belonged to them away from them for 30,000. I know that that’s taxes and it’s the law of the land, but it shows me that these people didn’t truly “own” their land. They were just renting it from the government. Isn’t that a little sad.

    Sure they are a tad eccentric. Sure I probably couldn’t have a conversation with these people for longer than 10 minutes before my brain exploded. But they were a fixture of my youth in West Asheville, and it’s sad to see them go away all because of money.

    I wish the best for them.

  6. Johnny

    Likewise, I wish the best for them too, and it’s too bad they had it taken away, but (sadly) rules are rules.

    No, they weren’t just renting it. They owned it and didn’t pay for services they had prior agreed to pay for. I’m sure they used the services. We all do.

    If they don’t pay, then I pay more.

  7. DonM

    Everyone that concerned could have all chipped in and paid their tax bill. Had a bake sale. Washed cars (or goats) and we wouldn’t be lamenting the plight of someone who wouldn’t play by society’s rules. You’re right, johnny.

  8. Johnny Lemuria

    If I had known about it beforehand, I might have contributed to that hypothetical bake sale. But what the city did was (as it usually is) wrong. Taxes are wrong. I know most people here won’t agree with this. Some people my bring up that chestnut of “paying dues for civilization” or some such nonsense. But they are wrong, and taxes are wrong. Just because “everyone does it”, or there are consequences from thieves and bullies if you don’t do it, does not make it right.

  9. DonM

    Johny Lemuria,
    Taxes have nothing to do with “paying dues for civilization.” While I don’t not like to overpay taxes for any reason, you must agree that the services we receive like water, sewerage, fire protection, security, etc must be paid for.

    If we all lived as self-sufficient hermits in the forest you may have a point. It hasn’t been that way thousands of years, though.

    Johnny, in the post previous to mine said it succinctly–“…They…didn’t pay for services they had prior agreed to pay for. I’m sure they used the services. We all do.

    If they don’t pay, then I pay more.”

  10. brebro

    Yeah, you can’t get away with owning property and buildings and being able to avail yourselves of county services without paying taxes.

    Unless you are a church, or course.

  11. DonM

    brebro,
    Do you have any idea how many different types of organizations are 501(c)3-exempt? Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m in no way defending any church, I just find it curious why you chose to single out a church instead of any of the myriad other types of 501(c)3-exempt organizations.

    By the way, I don’t think anyone or anything should enjoy exemption as long as the rest of us have to pay taxes.

  12. DR.ANTINEOCONUS

    There is no law in the N.S.G.S statues compelling any one to file their private property with the county, unless your a “person” or a corporation which are one in the same, and that if you use the property for commercial gain. To believe that your unalienable rights are linked to the payment of the extorion property tax, as popsicle stated above, is indictive of the stupidity of people.The suprmeme court has said no such thing as a direct property tax has ever exisited nor can exsit in the United States. What you pay is an advolurem tax iE added to the value of the property on commercial real estate, because you or more than likely your evil attorney either filed the property or told you that you had to file it, which is untrue.THERE IS NO LAW Again we see moron U.S.citizens thinking that the payment of taxs entitle them to anything, a belief that is not founded in law. You might wish to read Chapter 43 of the NCGS statues that gives you a remedy to un register your private property from the counties corporate roles Problen here is U.S. citizens like medevil serfs have been told only the high priests of the court IE the lawyers can excercise the law.As the evil Zigbeff Bresinski said “the best way to hide the truth from the american people is to put it in a book, because the ignorant american people will never read it.Private Proerty can not be taxed period. If your dumb enough to think taxs entitle you to anything, then your no American and you dont know the law which is the constitution! P.S. the ignorant person above who said Jesus forgot to pay his taxs is typical.Please read Matthew cahpter 17 which describes this event, the tax in question was a temple tax not a mortgage Tax. If you read on you will see Jesus said this tax was unjust as “the chikdren are free” he never paid the tax he had Peter pay from a fishes mouth, only because Peter answered in behalf of Jesus incorrectly. Jesus never said pay taxs! As a matter of fact he asked you what belongs to Ceasar and what belongs to God. Correct answer nothing belongs to Ceasar its all Gods . Sammule you must be a Southern Baptist

  13. zen

    DR.ANTINEOCONUS, there’s nothing like calling people morons to get them firmly behind your cause! I guess if people believed and followed you, then you’d get to be their leader of the Church of the Moron.

  14. Wow, Zen, you actually real all of that nonsense?I didnt get much past the first paragraph. My guess is that doc anti-neocon doesnt own any property himself.

  15. brebro

    No, DonM, I don’t know, how many? Is there an abundance of them on every corner and abandoned building too?

    Do they also get to build MEGA versions of their buildings, complete with gyms, fully equipped auditorium and performance spaces as well as cafés and recreation areas for themselves all tax free?

    Pardon my sin of omission, even though what I stated was factually correct, you are correct that churches are not the only ones getting a free ride, just the most prevalent in this area.

    Glad we agree that when most of a county is taken up with properties exempt from taxation (and yes, that includes businesses lured there by tax breaks and exemptions too, but then again, they supposedly provide many jobs in return) that the slack must be taken up by the rest of us who are not exempt, even though we don’t exactly make a profit either.

  16. DonM

    brebro,
    There are over 1.6 million not-for-profit organizations (NPO) in the U.S. According to everyone’s favorite source ;~) wiki, “The largest NPO in the United States (and the world) is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has an endowment of approximately $60 billion ($27 billion from the Gates’ and $30 billion from Warren Buffett in early 2006). The second largest is the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which has an endowment of approximately $14.8 billion…”

    Also, if you looked around you would easily see that churches are not the most prevalent NPO’s here or anywhere. Amnesty International, the Better Business Bureau, Goodwill Industries, United Way, Habitat for Humanity, the Red Cross, World Wide Fund for Nature, Code Pink, MoveOn.org, Iraq Veterans against the War, ad infinitum have great presence around here.

    Your disdain for churches is plainly showing! I don’t care. I was merely curious as to WHY you singled out churches.

    Why is that?

  17. DR.ANTINEOCONUS

    Your assumption that I do not own property is patently incorrect. You obviously are unfamiliar with U.C.C. 1 Security Agreements. Unless one quiet titles property and then rebut’s the first lien holder in due course, which is the County, a sub jurisdiction of the corporate STATE , then you do not own property. None of you in this forum I seriously doubt, own or process alllodial title to any property, including your ‘Motor Vehicles, you only have the illusion that you do. If your Bad little U.S. citizen slave and don’t pay your ad valorem extortion taxs, the real owner of your property will yank out the Real Title and not the bogus certificate of Title that you think entitles you to anything. The County will then proceed to sell their/ your property on the courthouse steps, ever wonder why? Because what they are, doing is in fact an Illegal act and fraud and cannot be done in a courtroom.
    I would suggest before running off at the mouth you check out your remedy in law in N.C.G.S. statues chapter 43. I’m amazed at the level of ignorance in this matter. You people have accepted tax’s and the slavery that comes with it, as somehow being your civic duty . Your great grand parents and the founding fathers would think most of you mad, which indeed you are. All 10 planks of the communist manifesto are now firmly in place, you own nothing, you are merely squatters, tennant’s , on residential premises owned by the overlord, which is the corporate STATE.
    Incidentally, you might wish to look those words up in Blacks Law dictionary to find out what they really mean. Simply you people have been hood winked and wouldn’t know your property rights if they hit you over the head, and judging the intellectual content of most of these posts would not be hard for a lawyer to do to any of you. By the way Res as in resident in a thing or object in commerce Rem as in ad valorem is the property, which another has interest in. You cant take back government when you don’t even know what your relationship is to it. Tax’s are something only slaves and fools would be proud of.

  18. DR.ANTINEOCONUS

    Churches ceased being real churches when they allowed themselves to be turned into dead entitles, fictions in law, ruled by the I.R.S., which incidentally exists nowhere in the over 50 million Federal Statues.
    The 501c3 incorporation of the modern day apostate church was the result of Lyndon Johnson a Democrat passing federal legislation denying churches political speech, he felt they interfered with his Texas Senate campaigns.
    In the words of Jesus you cannot serve two masters because you will hate one and love the other and corporate churches clearly have nothing to do with the real church of Jesus Christ, just read Revelation 3 he has to knock…. Why?…Because he is on the outside on the church and they have closed the door, they are all too busy paying taxes and bowing to Caesar and watching neocons on Fox News.
    In short, wanna find Christ do not go to a 501c3 government run church, many are waking up and “coming out of her” as scripture commands and what is her?…… That would be BABYLON spelled in all capitals, which is exactly how corporations spell their names. The government run churches are dead and those in them are under the strong delusion of the Rapture Cult, the cult that stole Christianity

  19. brebro

    Why did I single out churches DonM? Why, obviously it is because of my disdain for them, of course. Why do you ask questions when you plainly have already surmised the answer? You say you don’t care, but clearly you do. Why is that??

    If those other organizations have a much larger proliferation than churches, do why don’t you count how many of them you see on a drive through the counties and let me know if you count more Amnesty International or VFWs than you do churches, I would be interested to know the outcome.

  20. DonM

    brebro,
    I really do not care. Doesn’t affect me in the least. I ask questions to get answers. Thank you for yours!

    You appear to me as an angry person in this regard. Just wanted to know why. You don’t have to answer.

  21. Carrie

    Dr Anti..: While I’m interested in your subjects, do you pay your property taxes?

  22. DR.ANTINEOCONUS

    “Your Taxs” I didnt know taxs belonged to people. You completely missed the point.Answer me 2 questions so that I can answer you. Is there a Dollar sign that appears on “your” tax Bills. 2 How is your named spelled on “your” statements is it spelled in all caps?.I dont have taxs if you knew who you were you wouldnt either.But then again your a U.S. citizen

  23. Is it at all possible that the good Dr. Anti Neocon US is Gabriel Ferrari? He seems to know so much about the law and Jesus. Just asking.

  24. Ken Hanke

    “Is it at all possible that the good Dr. Anti Neocon US is Gabriel Ferrari? He seems to know so much about the law and Jesus. Just asking.”

    In any case, he has lots of words and isn’t afraid to use them.

  25. brebro

    Oh….. DonM, you’re right, I am angry. I was having a bad day and chose to take it out on churches. I apologize. It’s just, well… you see, a church killed both my parents once and made me watch and ever since then.. I , well, I won’t bore you with the details.

    I only meant to make a supposedly witty point about the main discussion here: that everyone has to pay for the common benefits we receive (or DO they?).

    I didn’t mean to exclude ALL who don’t pay their fair share and focus on only one group, it’s just that I once heard that brevity is the soul of wit, and burdening my one sentence remark with all the disclaimers and addenda to make it encompass the entire range of 501(c)3-exempt organizations would have negated the impact of a brief comment, much like this treatise I am now writing.

    Again, please accept my apologies and thank you very much for your concern about me, I hope that, in return, I could somewhat sate your admirably healthy (and seemingly endless) appetite of curiosity, at least for the moment. Now, I will stop interrupting the more on-topic debate with my personal revelations.

  26. DR.ANTINEOCONUS

    When you receive benefits from the government, you lose all your constitutionally secured rights. Why is this? Because contract law or treaty law is the highest form of law there is, please see Babcock vs., U.S..When benefits are received, you automatically are converted into federal personal, domiciled in Washington D.C or territories of the U,S, such as Guam, Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands, don’t believe me go to U.S.C, Title 5 552 a subsection 13, anyone receiving benefits from the government is deemed federal personnel.
    When you register property with the county, your property is converted from private property to Real Estate, and incidentally, you are converted into State Officers, with all capitalized names, this is how they get control over you. The entire North Carolina General Statues deal and apply only to State officers and corporations of the State, when you receive benefits, you, like Esau sell your birthright of freedom.
    Were all of you stupid enough to think that if you contracted with the devil that there wouldn’t be a price to pay?
    Just as no law compels you to use a social security number, when you do, you’ve just signed away all your rights for a pot of pottage. Funny, speaking of the Matrix, didn’t Neo say the very people enslaved by the system will defend it to the death? This describes the majority of dumbed down U.S. citizens, who actually think they are free, when in fact the government owns them, their children, and all their so-called property, lock stock and barrel. Stupid is as Stupid does. Gives new meaning to the words, my people perish for a lack of knowledge.
    When you render unto Caesar your property, children and your freedom, in exchange for benefits, then it is him you owe. Now shut up and pay your tax’s and tribute to Caesar like good little serfs, as the 14th amendment of the U.S, constitution compels you to do and please don’t think for one second, you’re a free man, especially, in a nation that has more imprisoned people per capita than any other nation on the entire planet! YOU HAVE ALL TAKEN THE BLUE PILL AND YOU LIKE WALLOWING IN YOUR IGNORANCE

  27. Cecil Bothwell

    This thread illustrates nicely why I am opposed to anonymous blogging, except perhaps in discussions that otherwise could or would not occur in public (vicitms of sexual assault, for example.

    If folks won’t take responsibility for their ideas, why should anyone else take them seriously?

    As for paying taxes, we are all in this game together whether we like it or not. We utterly depend on the commons for our wherewithal, for our life support. We are fundamentally social animals and in most animal societies hermits die. That kid in Alaska is more the rule than the exception. The best democratic governments do for everyone what they can’t do for themselves and if citizens participate they can mostly be held back from doing great damage.

    I pay my taxes because I can’t personally impose a speed limit on idiots who want to drive 80 mph on residential streets, I can’t regulate emissions from factory smokestacks alone. I can’t make sure my neighbor’s house is fireproof enough that it won’t burn down my home so I believe in a building code. I can’t personally provide a fire department in case a fire does occur. I want an educated citizenry so I pay for schools despite being child-free. If I ever have an emergency I’ll be damn glad there are paved streets for an ambulance to get me to help in a hurry. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, paying taxes is the worst way to pay for the commons except for all the others.

    People who really want to avoid civilization have some wilderness left to escape to, though not much. And, truth be told, it isn’t very hard to form a church and escape property taxes if you are willing to put all of your assets into the church’s name.

  28. People who really want to avoid civilization have some wilderness left to escape to, though not much. And, truth be told, it isn’t very hard to form a church and escape property taxes if you are willing to put all of your assets into the church’s name. ”

    Then why were ‘they’ able to take your land and house?

  29. DR.ANTINEOCONUS

    MR Bothwell do you think you might be a socialist? Just asking.You are if you think private proerty should be taxed

  30. travelah

    Cecil, come on now … is your real name Cecil? More seriously, some of us use a “handle” because we have for the last 30 years. If I wanted to use my actual name I would but I prefer not to and it has nothing to do with not taking responsibility. I take responsibility for everything I post and if you don’t believe me, email me.

  31. However fanatical he is, Gabriel Ferrari is a lot like some of the skilled artisans making a life for themselves in the thriving arts community of Asheville. Though his seemingly cobbled conglomeration of welded chicken coops, ‘classrooms’ and fences may not be fit to live in, they certainly have their merit as art pieces.
    How much different, except for their location, are these found object sculptures made by Mr. Ferrari, and the welded decorative fencing and sculptures found on Roberts Street and the River Arts District? Mr. Ferrari has dedicated over 10 years of personal manual labor to these projects, creating beautiful, functional art pieces. He has created eloquent mountain vistas and intricate patterns out of industrial rebar, a quaint wishing well from a bicycle tire and scrap metal, as well as other creations and paintings.
    The only reason these have been deemed a hazard and not high art is for their purpose. Instead of creating commissioned work from discarded materials like those of Steebo Designs (Haywood Road and Woolworth Walk), Mr. Ferrari built these structures by himself, on his own property, for a cause that is seemingly all his own. The fences are only an artistic way of keeping curious, judgmental, angry, and abusive citizens from disturbing his work.
    I am new to the area, and after a couple months of wondering what this School of Surviving Skills would be able to teach me, I stopped to talk to Gabriel when I saw him outside working one day. I quickly learned that this was not simply a hobby for someone who likes to be outdoors, but rather that he was preparing a place where the community could come to learn to support themselves, should an apocalyptic event occur.
    Much like other outdoor survival programs teach, Mr. Ferrari told me that when our climate changes, (whether that be economical, natural, or supernatural), he would be instructed to gather professor figures to teach the community how to live in a primal environment again. He rightfully pointed out that the majority of citizens are completely dependant upon their suburban jobs, appliances, and conveniences, and would go into mass panic when they realized that they had to depend on themselves.
    Though his work became an obsession, and his hodge podge of projects reached a breaking point where they became a hazard to his health and the safety of those around him, he should not be cast off and his work destroyed.
    Gabriel Ferrari is a deeply religious man whom, I believe, sincerely wants to help people. I am sure that his extreme passion turns off many people who don’t have the patience to try and understand him, but if you were to read a biography of any great artist (or even prophet) in history, you would learn that they too were often misunderstood in their own time.
    About the check that the city offered him for, $122,000; of course he is not going to accept a check, he doesn’t want the money, he wants the house that he has spent 20 years building. Instead of trying to force a check on him, why not auction off his sculptures to private collections or sculpture gardens and donate the money to him? I am sure that he would be more willing to relocate with money that he has earned instead of money that was taken from him in the first place.
    The new owner of the property, Kevin Wei of Buncombe Realty does not want to donate any of the work to anyone, but rather have them buy it from him. I have been in contact with an artist, Vincent Wrenn who is trying to get Wei to gather a few of the key sculptures and set them aside instead of bulldozing everything under. Work has already begun in the tear down process, and while the property looked overcrowded and messy before, it now looks as though a tornado has ripped through the yard, crushed sheds and overturned art is strewn haphazardly around.
    If you are an art appreciator, or an artist yourself please call the owner, Kevin Wei, at 301-2021 and ask him to donate some of these structures to the art community. In a city rich in diverse grass roots artists and skilled craftsmen, I sincerely hope that all of the work that Mr. Ferrari has methodically devoted to his craft is not deftly demolished under the cold steel treads of a bulldozer putting in a new set of row houses.

  32. I agree. i think he is an idiot savant. A genius unrecognized in his time. And in my opinion, he’s right in in much of his assessment of ‘the state of things’. Although, I think he needs a press handler, so as to not scare away the fools.

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