Judge will consider motion to dismiss complaint filed against Carteret County Board of Commissioners over RV park rezoning

A decision by the Carteret County Board of Commissioners to rezone this 156-acre parcel of land, outlined in red, off Highway 58 near Peletier is the subject of a civil complaint filed against the board and Carteret County. (Carteret County map)

BEAUFORT — A civil complaint involving a decision made by the Carteret County Board of Commissioners in May to rezone 156 acres of undeveloped land off Highway 58 near Peletier for a recreational camper park is slated to go before a judge Monday.

Carteret County and the board of commissioners, which are named as defendants on a civil complaint initially filed in Carteret County Superior Court June 22, filed a subsequent motion to dismiss the complaint Aug. 23. The motion to dismiss will be heard during the session of civil superior court beginning at 10 a.m. Monday at the courthouse in Beaufort.

The initial complaint was made by plaintiffs Barry and Cathey Blackburn, who own property on West Firetower Road near the land rezoned to recreational camper park (RCP) district in May. Other plaintiffs named in the complaint are Gilbert and Pam Taylor, James and Rebecca Dorris and William and Lou Singleton, who all also own property near the proposed camper park.  

The complaint is seeking a preliminary injunction essentially overturning the board of commissioners’ 4-2 decision to rezone 156 acres of land previously zoned for single-family residential to the RCP district.

Commissioners Robin Comer, Mark Mansfield, Chris Chadwick and Ed Wheatly were in favor of the rezoning, while commissioners Bob Cavanaugh and Chuck Shinn were opposed. Commissioner Jimmy Farrington was recused from deliberating and voting because he is part owner of the land owner/developer involved with the request, Dirt2Dreams LLC.

The matter drew strong opposition from many nearby residents – some of them now involved in the civil complaint – who spoke during a series of public hearings leading up to the commissioners’ final vote May 17. The plaintiffs’ legal counsel, New Bern-based attorney George Oliver, also spoke during the public hearing when it went before the board of commissioners.

The filing claims the plaintiffs “will suffer imminent injury through loss of character of the particular neighborhood and/or local area impacted by the Rezoning Decision into a high density, high traffic area, overwhelming an area otherwise zoned as low to moderate density residential.”

A key point of the residents’ complaints then and now centers on the county’s land-use plan, which classifies the area along Highway 58 near Peletier as “limited transition.” The plaintiffs allege the rezoning was not consistent with the land-use plan and it constitutes spot zoning, so therefore it should not have been approved. 

The plaintiffs also allege the county did not follow proper procedures outlined by revised general statute Chapter 160D, which requires boards and commissions to issue statements of reasonableness and consistency when dealing with rezoning matters. The plaintiffs claim the board of commissioners did not issue such statements, leading to an “arbitrary and capricious” decision.

In the motion to dismiss made Aug. 23, the county claims the plaintiffs failed to add the rezoning applicant, The Cullipher Group, and the property owner, Dirt2Dreams, as parties to the action. Further, the motion states, a two-month statute of limitations to challenge the zoning decision has expired.

With a decision rendered by the commissioners May 17, the initial filing was made within the two-month period. The defendant’s response was initially due July 25, but the county filed for a time extension July 22 as “additional time is needed to investigate the facts alleged in the Plaintiffs’ Verified Complaint and to determine the law applicable thereto.”

The extension was granted Aug. 2, pushing the response deadline to Aug. 23, when the county filed its motion to dismiss.

When reached by email, Mr. Oliver said he could not comment on the matter while it is still in litigation. Carteret County attorney Rob Wheatly has not responded to the News-Times request for comment on the civil complaint.

 

Contact Elise Clouser at elise@thenewstimes.com; by phone at 252-726-7081 ext. 229; or follow on Twitter @eliseccnt.

(6) comments

drewski

I certainly hope they prevail. Spot zoning, land use plan and a sitting commissioner as partner to the project? Terrible optics.

Almost seems like " the fix was in" The county atty has not yet commented on his brothers action? More bad optics.

Rules and regulations only apply to the poor and politically unconnected, unless there is public scrutiny/ outcry.

mcmlxv

The county attorney probably can't comment, he's not listed as the attorney for the motion. Sonny Sade is the attorney of record for this motion. I guess they needed outside muscle for the heavy lifting.

David Collins

Yeah , I agree it looks “good old boyish” but these are the folks with the land , either owned of have beneficial access to it , so that is what you got . Isn’t it called “soft power” where you can get things jiggered about in your favor without you actually having to do anything . Saves Face I have been told .

mcmlxv

Edit to previous comment, the attorney I mentioned is Sonny Sade Haynes, from Winston-Salem.

dc

At the very least a sizable and adequate vegetation buffer should be required if things are allowed to stand. If entrance and exit is planned on West Fire Tower Rd that seems a problem. With project directly across Hwy 58 seems a stop light is in order. That would/should alleviate some safety problems.

noitall

Sounds like a job for a DOT Super highway. I always thought the DOT was after the fact to take car of traffic - not dictate land use, And add in a projected need for a traffic signal that may or may not be needed - turning circle are now popular with dOT

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