Pinewild Foes Ask Court to Rehear Case
Pinewild residents fighting annexation by the village of Pinehurst want their case heard again by the state Court of Appeals.
A three-judge panel unanimously rejected their appeal July 21. On Monday, the Pinewild residents filed a petition for a rehearing on that appeal.
Potentially that gives annexation opponents another month on the clock while the appeals court considers their petition. If this is denied, they might then ask the state Supreme Court to agree to a "discretionary review" of the appeals court's denial of their original appeal. That could put off annexation even longer.
Attorney Lydia Boesch lives in Pinewild. She and her husband John Boesch have been leading the fight against annexation. They maintain that the Court of Appeals "misapprehended the nature and characteristics of a private, gated community," according to the petition filed with the court. They have always contended that the General Assembly did not consider such when the law on involuntary annexation was passed over 50 years ago.
They consider theirs a "case of first impression" and say there is no case law on the issue. This petition for a rehearing says they are presenting "facts and issues not previously addressed by North Carolina courts."
The Court of Appeals turned down that notion when it denied their first appeal, said Village Attorney Mike Newman. He said there isn't any difference between a gated community such as Pinewild and any other private property.
But Pinewild residents contend that their property rights mean they can keep Pinehurst police off their roads and that means the village won't be able to extend services it must offer, according to the annexation law.
"Pinewild's wholly restricted access distinguishes Pinewild from other communities within Pinehurst that have private streets," their petition says. They say because of that, not all ordinances of Pinehurst could be effective in Pinewild as law requires.
Newman figures opponents can put off annexation maybe until the first of the year, assuming that they lose on this petition and then ask for discretionary review by the state Supreme Court.
"Petitions for rehearing are very, very difficult," Newman said in a telephone interview Thursday. "The court has to rule on that within 30 days. My guess is that this gives them another month. This is the only case they have out there that has anything to do with the effective date of the annexation."
Newman said a lot of people have been asking him whether Pinewild will be annexed in time for its residents to vote in the November election. He said that probably won't happen.
"The county attorney called me yesterday, trying to determine whether they have to have ballots for Pinewild," Newman said. "It was my opinion that the litigation would still be ongoing, and the annexation effective date would be after the election."
The Court of Appeals has 30 days from Aug. 24 to decide on the rehearing petition. If the request is denied, opponents have 30 days -- which is Oct. 24 -- to petition the state Supreme Court.
"That takes us into November before they even get our response," Newman said. "Once our response is filed, the Supreme Court takes time to rule, which would likely occur sometime in December or January. My view is we would get a decision likely late this year or in January 2010."
Contact John Chappell at 783-5841 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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