In late-February, real estate attorney Sam Franck went before the Pender County Board of Commissioners to address a complaint filed against his client, the owner of the Hampstead Marina.
An article written by "Port City Daily," an online publication that covers news in Wilmington, New Hanover, Brunswick, and Pender Counties, details the exchange in great lengths, including how it all started.
At issue, Commissioners considered revoking the marina's special use permit after Commissioner David Piepmeyer made an initial complaint about violations, including erosion and improper outdoor lighting. The publication said Franck questioned the "'subjective' nature of Piepmeyer's allegation." From the article:
“Setting aside the source of the complaint and the nature of the facts that led to this investigation and the allegation in the first place, the substantive topics included in that allegation boiled down to two things,” Franck told commissioners. “One, a light that had been in exactly the same location, and directed exactly the same way for 15 years, was deemed to no longer be compliant. And two, vegetative ground cover that had recently been decimated by the rains of Hurricane Florence, just like all the rest of the land in this county, was deemed to no longer be adequate.”
County commissioners voted against revoking the marina's permit after it was found to be in compliance. Franck was noted as saying this "drawn-out investigation" over "simple compliance issues" could have been avoided.
“There was an opportunity for cooperation between the citizens and the staff that was missed here,” Franck said. “And I have to believe that the beginning of that dialogue, the way that conversation started, had something to do with how it finished. So I respectfully ask for you to consider to make that part of your procedure.”
The publication reached out to Franck the day after the big vote. He issued the following statement on behalf of his client the Wooten Holding Company, the owner of the Hampstead Marina:
“The Wooten family and I appreciate the consideration and appropriate action by those commissioners who were present to take that action.”
You can read the entire article on "Port City Daily."