Romneyville camp likely a zoning violation

6:21 PM, Jul 27, 2012   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- The start of the Republican National Convention is now just one month away but the city of Tampa may already have its first stand-off with protesters.

A small group of people representing the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign has literally set up a camp they call Romneyville behind a downtown Army Navy surplus store on N. Tampa St.

The group has brought in a porta potty, a temporary shower; they've even run an extension cord out to the camp site for electricity.

As many as 20 people currently stay overnight at Romneyville but during the convention, camp organizer Gregory Lockett says that number could swell to 500.

Lockett says he leased the space for the sole reason of giving some protesters a place to rest during the convention.

The lot is located inside the city's event zone.

Now 2 months after he set up the camp he says the city is telling his group they likely have to go.

"We're not here to cause any problems; we're not here to destroy any property. To be honest, with you (with) our organization here this whole area will be a lot safer," he told 10 News on Friday.

The city will decide early next week if Romneyville is in violation of city code.

The land is zoned commercial.

But even if told to move, Lockett says forget it they're staying.

 "No we're not moving cause it's a process they have to follow through and they got to follow through it."

City leaders fear the camp could also be the first of many that spring up prior to the convention.

"I think the potential definitely exists," said Dennis Rugero the city's director of Budget and Neighborhood Empowerment .

Rugero says if the camp is in violation, the owner of the land could be cited and face possible fines if the group does not move out.

The owner of the Army Navy surplus story declined to talk on camera about the situation telling 10 News "this isn't a story."


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