Judge Rules Against Roundabout Foes
A Moore County Superior Court judge on Monday denied the latest motions filed by a group fighting to stop the Pinehurst roundabout.
The contractor was on site Tuesday morning to start work, but it was hampered by the rain. The roundabout will be constructed at a realigned intersection of N.C. 2 and Carolina Vista.
"There is more than a faint whiff of sawdust in the air," said John Marcum, as bulldozers started work on the roundabout, which he has been trying to stop. "Our attorney, Bob Hornik, filed a writ of supercedus with the Court of Appeals yesterday (Monday)," he said. "Apart from that, the heavier the rain, the better off we are."
Hornik is appealing a decision Monday by Superior Court Judge John W. Smith to deny two motions filed on behalf of Marcum and Concerned Citizens of Pinehurst (CCP). One asked for a stay on roundabout work until CCP's appeal of previous decisions dismissing their suit aimed at stopping work is heard by the appeals court. The other asked that the N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) be added as a party to that suit.
"They are asking the Court of Appeals to enter an injunction (stopping the contractor from proceeding), and I am filing my response today," Village Attorney Mike Newman said Tuesday. "Marcum's arguments have been rejected by the planning director, the Board of Adjustment and three separate judges."
CCP wants any work on the roundabout to halted until the Court of Appeals issues a ruling on an earlier appeal. A Superior Court judge had previously rejected a claim by CCP that the village's Historic Preservation Commission must first issue a certificate of appropriateness (COA) for the roundabout.
A busy Moore County Superior Court calendar, with one jury trial set to start Tuesday, resulted in CCP's motions being heard in late morning. Hornik spoke only briefly, about 10 minutes, outlining the reasons for the motion and Pinehurst's objections to it.
Newman argued in his written brief that Moore County Superior Court lacked jurisdiction since the matter was already on appeal, and contended an injunction to stay the work was not an appropriate remedy available to the plaintiffs.
Village Planning Director Andrea Correll had determined that the Pinehurst Development Ordinance did not require the NCDOT to obtain a COA for the roundabout project from the Pinehurst Historic Preservation Commission. The village Board of Adjustment and two judges upheld her decision, Newman said.
Hornik told the court that his clients had to go back to Superior Court to enter their motions, since it was the "court of first instance." He quoted from the statutes, citing the page number.
"Petitioners ask the court 'to prevent' NCDOT from 'performing, ordering, or causing any further work' on the roundabout until further order of the court," Newman said in the memorandum he filed with the court.
To obtain an order like that, CCP would have had to post a bond with the clerk of superior court but had not done so, Newman said in his brief. "The village does not own the property, and is not doing the work."
Smith denied both motions from CCP -- but a procedural necessity in order for these motions to go up to the appeals court, Marcum said.
Newman has maintained all along that the village has no authority over NCDOT's working on a state highway like N.C. 2.
But Marcum said in a telephone interview late Monday that state laws allowing municipalities to set up historic districts gives them needed authority to require COAs for any work that would affect an historic district, as this roundabout does, even from state agencies such as NCDOT.
"It shows the difficulty in balancing pressure for growth against preserving ambience and historical values," Marcum said Tuesday morning. "It is a conflict between modern design and growth and people who place great value on Olmstead's original curvilinear design."
The original design for Pinehurst by Frederick Olmsted, who was also designed New York City's Central Park, set out a village with curving streets that returned again and again to the village center. Until one-way streets were introduced, residents used to joke that visitors would run out of gas trying to find their way out of downtown Pinehurst.
"It will eventually have to be resolved through the electoral process," said Marcum, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor in the last election.
The village contends that the roundabout would improve the safety in that area.
Newman's response was to be filed Tuesday.
"We will respond each and every time," he said.
In the meantime, the marker at George C. Marshall Park has been moved, trees have been relocated or cut, and detour signs were being put in place Tuesday to prepare for the start of work.
"They have their Caterpillars out there, and are commencing," Newman said.
Contact John Chappell at 783-5841 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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