Mediation Talking Points
A Summary of Events Leading to Mediation Settlement between Two Texas Road Property Owners and the Town of Montreat
- Property at 322 Texas Road was purchased for the purpose of building a new house. Due to the slope of the lot, the Town’s steep slope ordinance (adopted in 2009) requiring certain conditions was enacted. The owner of 322 Texas Road complied with all ordinance requirements in preparing to build the home.
- The owner of 324 Texas Road appealed to the Board of Adjustment (BoA) two decisions by Town staff granting a Certificate of Zoning Compliance for the new house built at 322 Texas Road. The BoA did not hear the case due to the timeliness of the appeal, as the appellant was more than 30 days past the granting of the certificate. The owner of 324 Texas Road appealed to North Carolina Superior Court, and the case was pending.
- The house at 322 Texas Road was built and conformed to all Town zoning and code requirements during construction and at final inspection, including steep slope requirements and building codes. A Certificate of Occupancy and final Zoning Compliance were granted by the Town. The steep slope ordinance allows for a 50% reduction in setback requirements (in this case, 15’ from the road instead of 30’) to make construction on heavily sloped lots feasible.
- The owner of 324 then appealed the Certificate of Occupancy and final Zoning Compliance to the BoA. This second appeal was scheduled to come before the BoA in October. The October meeting was cancelled due to the agreement by all parties to enter into mediation (see next point below). Any decision of the BoA for the second appeal would have been subject to review by NC Superior Court.
- After discussion between the owners of 322 and 324 Texas Road and the Town, it was decided that mediation, rather than lawsuits, was the best means to resolve the open issues.
- The owner of 324 submitted 12 points of contention regarding rules and ordinances she felt had been violated, which the Town contested. All 12 points were addressed and resolved in mediation.
- All three parties to the mediation have agreed not to speak about any of the specifics of the mediation discussions. The public is entitled to see the final settlement document, which includes $95,000 paid by the Town to the owner of 324 Texas Road. The document is available by request to the Town Clerk.
- The Town entered into mediation and agreed to the final terms of the mediation because it was in the best interests of the Town and taxpayers to do so. Both the other parties were also in mutual agreement with the settlement terms.
- The settlement is not an admission of guilt or wrongdoing. Instead, it is a decision based on the desire to come to a resolution and with an eye to other potentialities were a resolution not agreed upon.
- The funds came from Town reserves. Yes, Montreat taxpayers are “footing the bill” for the settlement. No departmental budgets will be affected, nor will there be any tax increase to cover the expense. Unfortunately, liability insurance does not cover the Town’s loss.
- The Montreat Town Council was not involved in any of the BoA deliberations nor any other aspect of the case other than approving the mediation agreement. The BoA does not report to the Town Council, but instead is an independent quasi-judicial body appointed by the Town Council.
- The Council took this action at the October 10 Town Council meeting.