Oct. 31, 2013. In it’s ongoing and continuing legal battle with the Town of Beech Mountain over the Towns attempt to break a 30 year lease land the Town has with Genesis Wildlife Sanctuary Inc., Genesis has prevailed in yet another very important victory in Superior Court.
Earlier this year, Superior Court Judge Marvin Pope ruled that the 30 year lease between Genesis and The Town of Beech Mountain was valid; “as a matter of law”. That ruling dealt a heavy blow to the heart of the Towns’ case in their attempt to eject Genesis from the site it has maintained for over 10 years. The Town had declared the lease to be invalid because they claimed the 1999 Town Council that executed the lease had acted improperly when entering into and executing the lease; because then Mayor Tim Holland also served as both Secretary and Director of Genesis. The Superior Court ruled to the contrary and found the lease valid as written.
In a most recent ruling, a different Superior Court Judge has made another very important and significant ruling. Superior Court Judge Mark Powell recently ruled the Towns’ Buckeye Lake Protection Ordinance that was adopted in February, 2009 that was later used by the Town to eject Genesis from the lease, was in fact, a Zoning Ordinance “as a matter of law”. The ordinance contained a regulation that read; “No animal may be housed or caged within 200′ of Buckeye Lake or within 200′ of any stream that drains into Buckeye Lake”.
The adoption of this specific regulation immediately placed Genesis in violation of the newly adopted ordinance, as nowhere on the entire site existed that was not within 200′ of a small drainage stream that runs through the Genesis site. Genesis alleges and believes the Town specifically added the 200′ setback requirement in- order to target Genesis’ operations for lease violation, as all 14 animal cages and habitats, along with the Wildlife Sanctuary’s educational facility and hospital rehabilitation center lie within 200′ of a small drainage stream.
The significance of this ruling lies in the fact that as a “Zoning” ordinance, the Town erred in its adoption and implementation, as no required public notices or public hearings were held; therefore the ordinance is not a valid and enforceable ordinance. As such, the ordinance could not legally have been used as the primary tool to eject Genesis from its’ Buckeye Lake site.
In 2010, when the Town began its’ enforcement of the new regulation against Genesis, this enforcement required Genesis, under threat of legal action, to remove all animals and birds, demolish all but 2 of its’ 14 cages and habitats and to relocate its’ operations to another location; all at great expense to Genesis.
Genesis alleges and believes the Town wants the leased site and Genesis’ remaining building improvements to further their goal of turning Buckeye Lake into a boating, fishing and picnicking destination for residents and tourist that would help defray the annual operating loss of over 1/2 million dollars it now suffers for the recently built, Town owned, multi-million dollar Recreational Center that sits within 200′ of Genesis’ site.
A trial is currently scheduled for January 2014, that will finalize the case.
*Release from Genesis Wildlife Sanctuary
Read prior stories on this bitter battle between the Town of Beech Mountain and Genesis Wildlife Sanctuary.