Ruling On Center Appealed
The ruling that the Town Council has decided to appeal ordered the town to issue a conditional-use permit allowing the Humane Society to build an animal welfare center at N.C. 22 and Airport Road in the town's zoning territory.
Town Attorney Doug Gill confirmed Tuesday night, after a closed-door session appended to the regular council meeting, that he had filed the notice with the Moore County Superior Court, taking the town's case to the N.C. Court of Appeals for the second time. The town lost the first time when appealing another Superior Court judge's order.
The town's appeal threatens to prolong the already years-long legal struggle between the non-profit Humane Society and the council.
At issue is the society's decision to build a new "sheltering facility-veterinary clinic" in a location unpopular with the town and with an adjacent landowner, Forest Creek Golf Club. Opponents maintain, among other things, that the sounds of dogs barking will be a nuisance -- although the club has no residences on property adjoining the proposed 12.5-acre facility site.
Court rulings have generally favored the animal group on the grounds that the zoning ordinance in effect when the group first sought its permit allowed such uses. The struggle has gone on for seven years, society attorney Jay Devaney said on Wednesday.
The most recent ruling, issued in June by Superior Court Judge Ron Spivey, ordered Southern Pines to issue a conditional-use permit to the society. The judge found that the town had never issued a proper permit under the first judge's order several years earlier. (The society was actually seeking a judge's opinion asking that the town be required to grant a two-year extension of the society's first conditional-use permit, originally obtained under Judge Russell Walker Jr.
In response, Gill said Tuesday that he had filed the newly ordered conditional use permit with the clerk of court's office in Carthage, to be held pending resolution of the case in court -- potentially another 18 months.
Devaney said in a telephone interview Wednesday that he expects the town to lose this case, just as it has lost repeatedly when the society has been forced to go to court in years past. The Greensboro lawyer has represented the Humane Society through the years in the case.
Southern Pines had previously lost its first appeal to the appellate body, which ruled unanimously against the town in a seven-page decision dated Dec. 16, 2003.
A previous appeal to the N.C. Court of Appeals by Southern Pines on the same issue was unanimously rejected in favor of the society several years ago. The judges found, among other things, that the society acknowledges it will operate an adoption center within a veterinary and animal welfare facility, but that there is no proof to support the town's contention that it will be primarily a shelter.
"It has not been inexpensive for the society," Devaney said of the legal struggle. The society has a monetary damage case open against Southern Pines, requesting that the town be required to repay all the society's legal expenses.
In other business Tuesday:
-- The council voted 4-1 to deny a rezoning request and a separate conditional-use permit request from WEEB radio station owner Steve Adams, to change RS-3 zoning on 8.03 acres to RS-2. The change would allow Adams to develop a 17-lot "structurally integrated subdivision."
The property is on the current station property on Midland Road's south frontage, adjacent to and west to Knollwood Village. Area residents and nearby property owners, also developers of their own large homesites, objected to downzoning the property to obtain higher residential density allowances.
The RS-3 zoning would already allow Adams to build 11 residential lots, opponents argued. A petition with signatures of opposing adjacent land owners required the council to have a four-fifths majority vote to rezone the property and allow the permit.
Instead, the vote was four-fifths against, with only councilman, Mike Haney, voting to oppose a motion to deny the rezoning and the permit request.
-- Council amended the code of ordinances limiting parking in a certain block in the North Bennett area and upping the fee for violations of parking ordinances from $5 to $15.
-- Council approved architectural plans for the O'Neal School new construction; Sandhills Moore Coalition for Human Care, Inc.; and Pinecrest High School's modular unit.
Sara Lindau can be reached at 693-2473 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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