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Judge Rules In Favor of Genesis That Lease With Beech Mountain Is Valid, Ongoing Civil Suit Continues

By Jesse Wood

May 28, 2013. Last week, N.C. Superior Court Judge Marvin Pope ruled that a lease between the Town of Beech Mountain and Genesis Wildlife Sanctuary is valid after lawyers representing Genesis Wildlife Sanctuary made a motion for partial summary judgment.

Leslie Hayhurst and Bobcat.
Genesis Director Leslie Hayhurst holds Bobcat.

This is the latest court action in the ongoing civil suit between Genesis and Beech Mountain.

In 1999, the Beech Mountain Town Council agreed to enter into a 30-year lease with Genesis Wildlife Sanctuary for .84 acres of town property nearby Buckeye Lake for $1. In March 2012, Town Attorney Four Eggers notified Genesis that it had violated the lease.

Two months later the town filed a complaint in Watauga County Small Claims Court for immediate eviction of Genesis from the property. After the magistrate ordered Genesis to relinquish the property, Genesis quickly appealed and countered with a claim of its own alleging breach of lease, inverse condemnation, unfair and deceptive trade practice and violation of civil and constitutional rights. In October 2012, the town responded to the counterclaim, denying the allegations.

Larry Price, who is among counsel for Genesis Wildlife Sanctuary, said the most recent ruling concerning the validity of the lease was a “big.”

Price added that the current town council wanted to “get out of the case fairly quickly and easily” by arguing that the prior town council erred in proper procedure when agreeing to enter into the 30-year lease back in 1999.

“Genesis, rather than waiting for Town to come forward with his defense, said, ‘Let’s meet it head on and file a motion for summary judgment,” Price said. “Now the town is kind of stuck. They put most of their eggs in one basket with the invalidity of the lease [argument]. This is a big ruling.”

Eggers declined to comment on the ongoing case, citing that he hasn’t been authorized to publicly comment on the matters at hand. Town Manager Randy Feierabend has also declined to talk about the ongoing case.

Although Beech Town Council Member Alan Holcombe was reluctant to go into specific details, Holcombe said he disagreed with Price’s comment about the Town of Beech Mountain putting “most of their eggs in one basket.” 

“The recent ruling is only part of the whole process,” Holcombe said. “We’ll have to wait until Chapter 2.”

As for when “Chapter 2” starts, Holcombe added that he wasn’t aware of any timeline with the ongoing civil suit: “That’s up to the court.” 

For much more information and background about this lawsuit, click to a previous HCPress.com story written in January: https://www.hcpress.com/news/beech-mountain-and-genesis-wildlife-sanctuary-continue-bitter-battle-court-proceedings-moving-slowly.html