The homeless camp on private VB property may need to relocate. The owner says not so fast

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va, (WAVY) — They say no good deed goes unpunished. A Virginia Beach landowner finds out the hard way after trying to help homeless people by letting them set up camp on a patch of his land.

After eight years, the city had other plans, and now they want the homeless out.

The owner is Ron Deangelis. In Italian, his surname means “The Angel”.

In many ways, Deangelis is an angel for homeless people – a guardian angel who only wants to improve their quality of life.

We met Deangelis on his property at the electric pole in front of thick woods that hide what’s behind.

“It was stupid…for them to have a portable gas generator…I said you pay me the electric bill at the end of every month – something they’ve been doing for countless years. I’m happy, and they’re happy…why mess it up? he said.

Seven years ago, Deangelis installed the electric pole for people camping on his property.

Deangelis says the City of Virginia Beach claims in a court subpoena that Deangelis is “unlawfully permitting the continued encampment of homeless people on the property.”

“I don’t understand it myself. They’ve been here eight years, what’s wrong? The city told me the homeless had to leave,” he said.

He then took us back to the camp where six people now live.

“Andy Fox is coming to visit us,” he announced as we headed to a clean camp.

There are four tents and a tarmacked common area. No trash on the ground. To do the housework. Usually about six people return to the area.

You can’t see the Birdneck Road camp, and they can’t see. There is only one attached property that can see any of the tarpaulin structures. We met a neighbor who says he contacted the city, not out of concern, but out of curiosity. He also mentioned that sometimes you can hear camp residents talking.

You can see where the appliances are plugged into an outlet, and they have a high end freezer where the burger was so frozen that if you knocked on it, your joints hurt.

Deangelis received a Notice of Violation that the property is zoned “Business-2”, so he moved camp to the part of his property that is “Residential 10”, which is medium density.

He claims that when he returned to tell the zoning department that residents had been moved to the R-10 side of his property, a receptionist at the counter said that would be fine. Later, a zoning inspector contacted Deangelis and said that was not true and that the zoning ordinance prohibited recreational camping.

Deangelis emphasizes what he thinks is most important.

“They are happy here. What’s the problem ? I want them here,” he said.

Clifton James is emotional at the thought that he might have to leave camp.

“It’s such a shame that someone is trying to help homeless people have a good heart and they want to sue my landlord,” he said.

“Here’s what I want,” Deangelis told us. “I want the city to leave them alone… They haven’t created any problems for the past eight years… They’re happy with their way of life.

We contacted the City of Virginia Beach for comment and as of 7 p.m. Thursday there was no comment. We also left a message for the zoning inspector who took the complaint. Two calls were not returned.

Deangelis will be in court Monday at 2 p.m. 10 On Your Side will be there too.

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