“Even if we shut down, the sex offender problem is not going to disappear,” Zumwalt said. “We want to work together with you to figure out a future.”
Valley Brook is across the street from Hand Up Ministries, a trailer park that caters to sex offenders and other convicts seeking a place to live.
Mike Stamp, the town's police chief, acknowledged that Hand Up Ministries and a growing a transient population in Valley Brook are triggering a strong public response but said the “free stuff” being given away at Joe's Addiction is contributing to the issue.
“When you're providing a lot of free things, especially to transients and homeless people ... you're going to see more people call in and complain,” Stamp said. “It's created more than just a coffee shop business over there.
“Is that what they are licensed to do? That's why it's a town issue.”
Zumwalt, who described himself and his wife as “dreamers,” said he felt like Joe's Addiction and its future in Valley Brook is “between a rock and a hard place.”
“I think there are two issues here that are being mixed up,” he said. “Please, don't make us a victim of another issue.”
Fate of Joe's
Yet town residents didn't seem too moved by Zumwalt's words.
Ron Alexander II, who owns several homes in Valley Brook, blamed the coffee shop for recent thefts at his property. He said thieves have stolen copper, aluminum and other valuable household materials in recent years.
“In the last three years since that coffee shop opened, I have had more problems ... and I know directly who does it,” Alexander II said. “I see them over there at the coffee shop.”
The Valley Brook town trustees are expected to decide the fate of Joe's Addiction during its regular meeting next month.
It's unclear how the board will vote, but Mayor Donna Davis did make one comment about the issue before she and fellow board members went into a lengthy executive session about other matters.
“The license was for a coffee shop,” Davis said. “Not what you all are doing there.”