"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."
Sigh; OF COURSE they did:
The secret theater in East Austin was just what the doctor had ordered.It gets better:
Beau Reichert, who has Asperger’s syndrome and was struggling to make friends, moved to Austin nine years ago to build an art studio so he could meet people in a comfortable setting. His doctor thought it would help with the isolation Reichert experienced as a result of his developmental disorder that is characterized by difficulties in social interactions.
The studio never got built. But Reichert, a 39-year-old artist, did plenty of work on the dilapidated condition of the vast 2-acre lot he had bought.
He started using the main building as his home and, as a form of stress relief, began tinkering with an outdoor movie screen in his backyard. When neighbors stopped by to compliment the work he’d done on the home, Reichert would show them his outdoor movie theater. Soon, they were coming to the theater every Saturday night.
As word got out about the theater, Reichert became well-known in the Austin arts scene and eventually played host to an unofficial South By Southwest neighborhood party, charity events for nonprofit art groups, weddings and even a few memorial viewings. For a few years, Reichert said, he was having the time of his life.
But the future of the secret theater is now up in the air.
This year, Reichert began hearing complaints from neighbors in a subdivision adjacent to his backyard. Since March, Austin police have received 10 calls for noise complaints at his home. But Reichert says he has never been issued a citation and that these are “fictitious complaints” called in anonymously by neighbors who moved in recently and are unaccustomed to living in a neighborhood full of artists and creative types.
Recently, anonymous complaints also started coming in to the Austin Code Department that accused Reichert of running an illegal business out of a residential home in violation of the city’s land use rules.You know where this is going:
Reichert said the theater is not a business because he doesn’t charge for events. People often make donations because they know how much he spends to host the events, Reichert said, but he doesn’t set a price.
“This is not a business model; this is a community,” he said.
But after another complaint on the Fourth of July, the Code Department executed a search warrant on Reichert’s property and found several violations, including one for a gazebo without a permit in his backyard, another for the “movie theater wall” and one for not keeping the property in sanitary condition, due to overgrown grass from gardens he’s created.Read the whole thing here.
Since July, Reichert said he has desperately tried to appeal and address the violations. A lawyer representing him said he’s spent an estimated $250,000 to comply with the city code.
Reichert estimates that he’d have to pay several hundred thousand dollars more and that it would take years to obtain his permits because he would have to rezone his property. Even then, he thinks those who take issue with his theater wouldn’t let up.