Zoning Appeals and Statutes of Limitation

             If you’ve ever wondered what frightens lawyers and keeps them up at night I can describe it in three words: statutes of limitations.              A “statute of limitation” is a fancy way of describing a deadline to file a lawsuit.  That’s all it is.  The problems with these deadlines are that 1) they sometimes […]

It’s Hard to Shoe a Running Horse

        “It’s hard to shoe a running horse.”  That’s not my quote.  It was a comment from the bench by Judge Abraham Penn Jones responding to the Town of Hillsborough’s attempt to bypass a direct court order to issue a conditional use permit in Schaefer v. Town of Hillsborough.              Hillsborough, however, sore from losing […]

Board of Adjustment 33 Hour Marathon

             After six nights and 33 hours of testimony and deliberation, the Harnett County Board of Adjustment reached a decision this week regarding a Conditional Use Permit for a regional landfill.  It was a marathon.  I know, because I was there.              Was it a record?  I don’t know.  My previous marathon was a 5 […]

Unscrambling Scrambled Eggs

            When it comes to appellate litigation there are holdings (which are fodder for legal treatises) and there are lessons (which become fodder for life in the real world). Last week the N.C. Court of Appeals issued an unpublished opinion in Jobe, et. al. v. Town of Haw River that has a clear holding and a […]

Clarifying “Grandfather” Protections

            When a child outgrows its clothes you simply buy larger clothes.  But when an older business outgrows its building and lot, new zoning codes often determine the extent to which physical expansion can occur.              It can be frustrating, especially when you’re an oceanfront hotel, you’re hemmed in on four sides, and moving is […]

New Cases – Rodeos, Lumber Yards and Raw Sewage

            As a young attorney I thought appellate decisions that weren’t published were the ones that established no precedent or posed no new facts to which old law could be applied.  Twenty-five years later I’ve realized that some cases aren’t published because the facts and applicable law are so muddled that the court just isn’t […]

Quasi-Judicial Proceedings — According to Dr. Seuss

            Last week I got an email from an attorney in Hoke County. She had heard that I possessed some sort of definition of quasi-judicial proceedings written by Dr. Seuss and wondered if I could forward it.  [Side Bar: I really do know where most of our counties are, and I’ve been through or practiced […]

Legislating Ethics — Part 4 — When is a “Close Relationship” Too Close?

            Like it or not, we live in a world where our most difficult decisions are subjective, debatable and ultimately inconclusive.               These past few weeks I have reviewed and analyzed statutes that (supposedly) provide guidance as to when a board member is incapable of putting self-interest or the interest of someone close to […]

Legislating Ethics — Part 3 — What Makes a Board Member “Impartial”?

            If American Idol’s Simon Cowell sat on your city council or county commission, would he be a help or a hindrance to ethical decision-making?              As someone who seems to be swayed by no outside opinion or influence, my guess is that, from a consideration of ethics, he would be a help.              In […]

Controversy in Carrboro — What do Facts Have to do with Anything?

             A recent N.C. Court of Appeals case (Northwest Property Group, LLC v. Town of Carrboro, filed 22 December 2009) provides an interesting glimpse into the insane world of conditional use zoning and its multiple attendant rules.  The facts              The December 2009 decision is but one more stop in a journey that started when […]

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