March 17, 2022

Montreat Board of Adjustment dismisses appeals in MRA special use permit follow up - Black Mountain News

MONTREAT - The Montreat Board of Adjustment voted March 16 to dismiss appeals submitted by the opposition to the Mountain Retreat Association's new lodge in a special call meeting.

In a 6-1 vote — Bill Solomon was the only board member to vote no — the board dismissed the appeal without hearing it after arguments from the town's attorney, the attorneys for the MRA and the attorneys representing Kate Hayner and the Jones family, the opposition to the MRA.

"I attended the hearings, I reviewed the proposal," said Board of Adjustment Chairman Mark Spence. "The order before the board accurately reflects, in my opinion, that determination made by the board to approve the MRA's special use permit."

On Jan. 6, the Board of Adjustment approved a special use permit for the MRA.

Two new board members, Arrington Cox and Danny Sharpe, who were voted onto the board Jan. 13, oversaw the proceedings with the rest of the board. Board member Eleanor James was absent, represented by alternate David Neel.

"We now have to look at next steps in terms of a bigger appeal," said Priscilla Hayner, Kate Hayner's sister. "We haven't decided on it, but we will decide quite shortly."

Though attorneys James Whitlock, representing Kate Hayner, and John Noor, representing the Jones family, filed separate appeals, they combined arguments due to the near identical nature of the appeals.

The appeals sought to overturn the testimony of Town Zoning Administrator Scott Adams, given Dec. 13 as part of the initial hearing process to grant the MRA a special use permit for its new lodge.

The town and the MRA each made motions to dismiss the appeals. All parties were given a chance to present arguments.

Prior to hearing arguments, the Board of Adjustment's attorney for legal counsel Brian Gulden explained the process and purpose of the special meeting. Gulden read from the state ordinance on quasi-judicial proceedings, explaining that the meeting was not a time to debate facts presented in the original hearing.

"Today, after many hours of hearings and a vote by a prior board, there was an order drafted that reflects the board's decision," Gulden said. "This board is here today to approve that board's decision. We don't get to rehash the facts. We don't get to debate."

Attorney Cindy Rice, representing the town, cited four reasons for dismissing the appeal, saying she needed to prove only one as all four were grounds for dismissal.

Rice said the appellants stated Adams' testimony was a final...

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