Fells Point Business Owners More Frustrated After Town Hall Meeting

Business owners in Fells Point are more frustrated following a town hall meeting with city leaders.

Video Transcript

NICOLE BAKER: Now to the story we've been on top of for days. It was supposed to be a chance for Fells Point business owners to share their comments, their concerns. But it left them more angry rather than hopeful that something will change.

VIC CARTER: Mayor Scott announced tonight's virtual town hall last night, but he never actually took part in it. Despite that, other city leaders, including the police commissioner, say they do have a plan. But businesses are left wondering, is it enough?

NICOLE BAKER: WJZ is live tonight. Amy Kawata spoke with some of those very frustrated business owners. Amy.

AMY KAWATA: Nicole, Vic, well, this meeting last just under an hour and had hundreds of people on it. City leaders presented a city-wide district plan that focused here on Fells Point. But one business owner I spoke with says he's not buying it, and feels everything they've asked the city for, they're receiving the opposite in return.

NICHOLAS JOHNSON: I'm disheartened. I'm disappointed. I'm frustrated.

AMY KAWATA: A Fells Point business owner is fuming.

NICHOLAS JOHNSON: This plan is-- has nothing to do with what we've been asking for.

AMY KAWATA: City leaders held a virtual town hall Thursday hoping to address their concerns about violence, lawlessness, and trash. But Nicholas Johnson says the plan presented is nothing new, and once again, feels their concerns have been brushed aside.

NICHOLAS JOHNSON: This control plan or whatever you want to call it is just literally identical to the same plan that they use when there's Halloween or any other special event.

AMY KAWATA: Johnson is one of 37 business owners taking a stand, saying they're prepared to withhold city taxes and other fees, after a violent weekend in Fells where three people were shot and fights broke out. They're demanding four things-- cleaning up trash in the area, parking enforcement, a crackdown on illegal open-air alcohol and drug sales, and empowering police to do their job. During the town hall, business owners couldn't ask questions directly. Instead, they had to use a chat feature. Mayor Scott also did not attend. But earlier in the day, he vowed to work with police to address the spike in violence across the entire city.

BRANDON SCOTT: We have neighborhoods that are hurting from incidents of violence across the city to include Fells Point. And what we're not going to do is prioritize one over the other.

AMY KAWATA: Along with additional road closures and parking restrictions, the police commissioner detailed what people can expect this weekend and in the coming weeks, such as ramping up police presence starting earlier in the afternoon and staggered deployment of officers. Business owners say they're left not only with unsolved issues, but even more concern.

NICHOLAS JOHNSON: This is going to crush business in this neighborhood.

AMY KAWATA: And city leaders say they will adjust plans when needed and will continue to assess the area. They also say, while there will be a dedicated presence here in Fells Point, there will be enhanced presence in all districts. Live in Fells Point tonight, I'm Amy Kawata for WJZ.