Thursday, November 8, 2012

Currituck County moves to Dismiss Lawsuit for Commercial Development

Currituck seeks to dismiss Swan Beach suit

By Cindy Beamon

The Daily Advance

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

CURRITUCK — Currituck is asking a Superior Court judge to dismiss a challenge to its ban on commercial development on the county’s off-road beaches.

The county filed the motion in September after Swan Beach Corolla sued the county last summer for blocking its construction plans.

In the county’s motion to dismiss, Currituck is seeking the case be dropped on grounds that Swan Beach Corolla filing its complaint too late; that it did not exhaust all remedies outside of court; and that the county, because it is a governmental entity, is immune from lawsuits like the one the company filed.

A date for the hearing has not yet been scheduled.

Developers filed the lawsuit last July charging they already had county permission to build businesses in Swan Beach, although the county is now opposed to those plans.

Swan Beach Corolla claims a plat with commercial lots was approved four decades ago, but the county has since reneged. The complaint seeks to reverse the county’s recent denial for commercial use of the lots totaling 37 acres.

The lawsuit claims the county rezoned six commercial lots decades ago without notifying the owners who purchased the property in 1966. Despite the rezoning, the county still billed the property owners as if the lots were zoned for business use, the lawsuit claims.

Developers apparently tried to remedy the problem several years ago by asking the county to restore the lots’ previous zoning.

Since 2004 Developer Charles “Chip” Friedman and other business owners who brought the suit have sought three times to rezone six lots originally zoned for commercial development.

In May, Currituck’s Board of Commissioners voted for the third time to deny Friedman’s rezoning request to build a cluster of cottage suites and businesses, including a convenience store, offices and a wedding chapel.

The decision upheld a 30-year-old county policy to restrict commercial development on Currituck’s northernmost beaches.

Outer Banks residents have protested the project would open the door for more business growth in an area ill-equipped to handle it. The remote beaches that begin at milepost 13 have no paved roads and no central water and sewer.

The lawsuit alleges that the county already allows commercial development on the off-road beaches because certain businesses are operating there.