The owner of the property that once housed Christ Church Camp of New Beginnings, or Tent City, failed to appear for a district court hearing Tuesday involving the City of Amarillo's lawsuit against him. In the wake of his absence, a judge ordered the City of Amarillo be paid for costs involved in filing the lawsuit.
According to court documents, Melvin McEwen did not make an appearance at the hearing regarding litigation filed last month that cited a myriad of health, safety and code violations on the property at 109 S. Washington St. Judge Richard Dambold also ordered McEwen not allow the encampment again in addition to paying the suit filing fees.
“It was an appropriate finding,” Amarillo City Manager Jared Miller said. “We don’t know what the (filing fee) amount is. The dollar amount remains to be seen. I think the litigation is done, but an appeal is possible. As far as I know, the litigation is now done.”
The suit alleged the following:
• Structures on the property have been erected without permits, in violation of Amarillo Municipal Code Section 4-10-82
• Tents and temporary shelters are maintained on the property in violation of Amarillo Municipal Code Section 4-10-82 and 4-10-83 (56a)
• The camp contains improper devices that are used for recreational fire and unattended fire in violation of Amarillo Municipal Code Section 10-2-16 and the International Fire Code Section 307
• The camp has not met and does not meet minimum standards for sanitation and health protection measures mandated by Texas Health & Safety Code, Chapter 341.
The lawsuit notes the Amarillo Police Department responded to numerous incidents from Nov. 17, 2017 to Feb. 15, 2018, including assaults, suspicious activity, trespassing, fire, disorderly conduct and fights.
City officials previously referenced they met with McEwen on numerous occasions since the establishment of the camp to provide resources to address the violations and other issues, per the litigation.
Efforts to obtain comment from McEwen were unsuccessful.