Earlier this year, the team at Rountree Losee LLP successfully represented the Town of Topsail Beach before the North Carolina Court of Appeals in a lawsuit originally filed by a group of Topsail Beach homeowners in late 2016.
Owners on the “soundside” at the south end of Topsail Beach want to stop development on the oceanfront across from them. To that end, they brought a lawsuit seeking to prevent the town from issuing any building permits for development on those oceanfront lots, even though none of the affected oceanfront owners had sought building permits for any of the properties.
The soundside owners argued that an ordinance governing when and how sand dunes can be altered prohibits any oceanfront development from taking place that would involve alteration of sand dunes, due to potential increased flood risk.
The town ordinance at issue requires a property owner to demonstrate that the proposed development will not increase potential flood risk, even if the development involves alteration of sand dunes. The interpretation of this ordinance has potential nationwide importance, as coastal communities around the country (and particularly, up and down the coast of North Carolina) have identical ordinances dealing with oceanfront development and alteration of sand dunes.
Rountree Losee attorney Steve Coggins argued before the North Carolina Court of Appeals in February that the lawsuit was properly dismissed because the town had not had the opportunity to consider any building permits and issue a final determination on whether development should take place.
In March, the court issued a written opinion agreeing that the issues raised in the lawsuit were premature and could not be considered in the absence of the town making a decision on whether specific proposed development should take place. To read the full version of the court’s decision, click here.
The Court of Appeals published the decision because it provides important guidance for citizens wishing to bring land use challenges, courts in this state, and the municipalities tasked with making land use permitting decisions.
The attorneys and staff at Rountree Losee were pleased to bring this case to successful resolution before the North Carolina Court of Appeals on behalf of the Town of Topsail Beach.
The firm invites readers facing complex land use permitting and development challenges to contact us to help achieve your goals.
Rountree Losee LLP has provided well-respected, high-quality legal services in Southeastern North Carolina for generations. Grounded in this history and tradition, and guided by our firm values, Rountree Losee’s diverse and growing team of lawyer-leaders continues to provide exceptional legal services as well as exemplary service to the community in which we live and work. If you have any questions or comments about this article or other legal services, please contact us at (910) 763-3404 or www.rountreelosee.com/contact-us.
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