Seeking to stop developers

The lot at 204 Glenn St. in Atlantic Beach sits undeveloped recently. A resident has filed a civil court petition to stop developers from grading and filling the lot for development. (Google Maps photo)

ATLANTIC BEACH — An Atlantic Beach resident is taking the town board of adjustment to civil court, seeking to get a board decision overturned.

Susan Hatchell of Atlantic Beach filed a petition March 19 for a writ of certiorari and stay order with the Carteret County Superior Civil Court’s clerk of court office.

Ms. Hatchell filed the petition against the Atlantic Beach board of adjustment. According to the Cornell Law School, a writ of certiorari is an order by which an appellate court decides to review a given case at its discretion. A town board of adjustment acts as a quasi-judicial board, hearing requests for variances from town development ordinances, so those wishing to dispute a BOA’s decisions appeal them to Superior Civil Court.

The News-Times reached out to Atlantic Beach officials and town attorney Derek Taylor for comment. Town Manager David Walker deferred to Mr. Taylor, however, Mr. Taylor was unavailable for comment by presstime. 

According to the petition, Ms. Hatchell wants the court to review a decision the BOA filed Feb. 19, regarding a decision which was issued at the board’s Jan. 21 meeting.

She said she’s seeking the court to reverse the BOA’s decision and remand the matter back to the board “with directions to allow complete competent testimony from the petitioner’s (i.e. Ms. Hatchell’s) expert witness and other testimony inappropriately not allowed to be considered by the respondent (the board) during said hearing (on Jan. 21.)”

Ms. Hatchell also seeks for permits issued by the BOA to be stayed until further appropriate decisions are made.

According to the agenda for the BOA’s Jan. 21 meeting, the board was scheduled to hold a public hearing on an appeal of a land disturbance permit issued to Ward Holdings LLC for work being done at 204 Glenn St.

Five neighboring property owners appealed Dec. 3, 2019, the issuance of the permit: Ms. Hatchell, Wally Courie, Flavius Hall, Tom O’Briant and L.C. Beck.

The town council issued the permit Nov. 8, 2019. Ward Holdings proposed to fill and grade the lot at 204 Glenn St. for the purpose of supporting a floor slab for a residential house. The appealing neighbors alleged the permit, grading and drainage plans for the project didn’t comply with the town’s Unified Development Ordinance.

Ms. Hatchell alleges in her petition that at the Jan. 21 hearing, she was “prejudiced” by not being allowed to testify “fully and completely as an expert.” Ms. Hatchell said in the petition she’s a state-registered landscape architect.

She further alleges the board “was inappropriately advised by their counsel to disregard certain facts that were present on any map presented by Ward Holding LLC, owner, which on information and belief, had a fair hearing been conducted, would have elicited evidence of why the permits should not have been allowed.”

Ms. Hatchell also alleges the findings of fact, the conclusion and decision of the BOA weren’t voted on at the hearing and “in fact were formulated after the hearing without a full vote of the members required to vote on said matters.”

She also alleges the hearing wasn’t conducted appropriately because “it was not opened and adjourned as required by the general statutes of North Carolina before decisions could be made and discussed by the board.”

Ms. Hatchell further alleges “inappropriate evidence” and “prejudicial evidence” was received by the board at the hearing and the board was instructed “to not consider evidence on the maps presented by the application having to do with foundation, and other evidence, as well as limitation on what they could consider about flooding infiltration, which on information and belief, was pertinent evidence.”

Contact Mike Shutak at 252-723-7353, email; or follow on Twitter at @mikesccnt.

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