Mast Farm Inn Lawsuit Against School Board Completely Dismissed in Superior Court

Published Thursday, November 21, 2019 at 5:00 pm

Superior Court Judge Susan E. Bray signed an order Nov. 14 completely dismissing the lawsuit filed by Deschamps Holdings, LLC and others against the Watauga County Board of Education that sought to prevent the school board from purchasing the Hodges Property in Valle Crucis for the construction of a new school.
 
In her order, the judge rejected the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction to stop the school board from completing its purchase of the property. Judge Bray determined the plaintiffs could not demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits of their case if it went to trial. The Judge also found that the plaintiffs could not show that the use of the Hodges Property for a school would cause irreparable harm to the Mast Farm Inn and could not show how the inn’s legal rights were in jeopardy.
 
In addition, the judge found that the plaintiffs’ did not have legal standing through any of their claims to permanently prevent the Watauga County Board of Education from purchasing the Hodges Property. The signing of the order follows an earlier hearing before Judge Bray on Oct. 29 in Boone.
 
Ron Henries, Chairman of the Watauga County Board of Education, expressed his appreciation for the court’s ruling.

“I am pleased at the Judge’s decision,” Henries said. “I want to commend our attorney Chris Campbell for his diligence in defending us against what we believe is a baseless lawsuit. I also want to commend Superintendent Scott Elliott for his thoroughness and hard work that proved beneficial in court.”
 
School Board Attorney Chris Campbell stated, “We argued strenuously that the Plaintiffs had no legal right to ask a court to prevent the school board from purchasing the Hodges Property under the facts of the case and we’re pleased that the judge agreed.”

Currently, the Board of Education is pursuing a septic permit for the Hodges Property prior to closing on the contract as part of its due diligence testing to ensure the site is appropriate for the new school. The board voted unanimously at its November 7 meeting to extend its contract for the purchase of the Hodges property in order to provide the time needed to conduct the permit level soil test.
 
Henries added that the board of education remains focused on buying property and moving forward with plans for a new school.
 
“We look forward to continuing the process of building a new school for the students of Valle Crucis,” Henries said.

Attempts to seek comments from the plaintiffs in the case were unsuccessful as of 5 p.m. on Thursday. The High Country Press will update the story as needed.

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