Asphalted: Police collar paving protestor
Louis Schultz called the police to stop what he calls the unauthorized paving of a street in Woolen Mills. Instead, officers ended up arresting Schultz when he sat down in front of the paver August 30.
This isn't the first time Schultz has butted heads with the City of Charlottesville. He clashed with city officials back in 2001 when they cited him for not mowing his yard. What they call weeds, he calls "native plants." Last fall the city came after his compost and brush piles.
This week his neighbor, Hal Bonney, hired pavers to asphalt part of Steephill Street, a city street that abuts Schultz's Market Street property.
"This road is impossible," says Bonney, who's lived on Steephill for two years. "It's eroded and rough. I couldn't get the car out in the winter."
The incident springs from the complicated issue of "unincorporated" or "unimproved" rights of way in the city.
"It's a 'paper' street," explains city police sergeant L. A. Durette. "It's the city's, but it's not maintained."
Durette and two other city police officers arrested Schultz when he sat in front of C&G Paving's paver around 12:30pm Monday. Schultz was charged with disorderly conduct and unlawful assembly.
"I asked them if other people would be charged from the unlawful assembly," says Schultz, who was talking with a Hook reporter at the time he plopped down in front of the heavy equipment.
He was released from custody two hours later, after posting a $250 bond and promising to avoid further altercations. Schultz, an avid conservationist, says he acted out of fear of that fresh asphalt could pollute a stream that runs through his property and affect access to his driveway.
And he's particularly irked with the city for allowing a neighbor to become what he calls an "amateur" road builder.
"I couldn't build an addition to my house without city approval," says Schultz, "yet here someone takes it upon himself to improve a public thoroughfare with no oversight whatsoever and no adherence to city standards."
During a standoff before Schultz's arrest, police called the city's neighborhood development department, and development services manager Angela Tucker and zoning administrator Ashley Cooper visited the site.
"I don't know that anyone authorized the paving," says a city planning official who spoke only on the condition her name was not used. "All I know is it's not city maintained, so it's not our decision. It's a civil matter, and it's up to property owners to work out."
Schultz accuses the neighborhood development department of being unconcerned about the impact of paving on streams.
"Everybody's made me out like I'm a fanatical nutcase," says Schultz. "I think they should be protecting the streams. I'm glad I have hawks in my backyard, and no one's ever demonstrated I've done harm on my property."
Bonney is clearly perplexed by Schultz's asphalt animosity. "We're trying to stop the erosion," says Bonney. "I thought he'd like it."
"They arrested the villain," says Jeff Gray, estimator for C&G Paving, which stopped work when tempers flared. "We will finish this now," vows Gray. "I don't care what hurricane is coming."
Louis Schultz is arrested after city officials allow a neighbor to pave an unincorporated right of way beside Schultz's Woolen Mills property.
PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO
PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO