An airport runs through it

Robert Branberg, of Anderson, S.C., recently discovered that he is part-owner of a jetport in Madison County, or rather, he owns part of a jetport. Specifically, he appears to hold title to a hundred feet or so of the middle of a runway.

Wolf Ridges Ski and Realty, Inc., one of more than two dozen companies involved in development projects in the vicinity of Wolf Ridge Ski Resort, is building a jetport on Haw Ridge and through Horse Shelter Gap. Logging and land clearing are already underway, but a recent survey by McMahan & Associates, P.A., of Weaverville, has revealed that some of the cleared and bulldozed land belongs to Branberg. (see illustration—the heavy line is Branberg’s property line, the two parallel dashed lines define the runway)

According to the survey, registered in Madison County courthouse, Feb. 21, a related company, Wolf Mountain Development, LLC, has also subdivided and sold off some of Branberg’s land as part of its Oak Hollow Reserve development. The access road to more than 50 lots in Oak Hollow has been bulldozed across Branberg’s land as well, according to the survey. According to the developer’s plans this road would utilize a tunnel under the jetport runway. The survey indicates that the tunnel would encroach on Branberg’s 25 acre parcel as well.

A civil suit was filed by Marshall attorney Stephen E. Huff on behalf of Branberg, April 3. The 23-page lawsuit alleges violation of title and trespass including cutting of timber, removal of fences, grading of roads, grading and excavation of a landing strip as well as “purporting to sell portions of Plaintiffs’ land” and other encroachments.

Meanwhile, a second lawsuit has resurfaced in connection with the Wolf Laurel jetport. Last year the developers were granted rezoning of the proposed air strip property to industrial. That rezoning was challenged in court by Laurel Valley Watch, Inc., a nonprofit residents group. The jury decided in favor of the developers. However, given the survey results, the nonprofit’s attorney Rachel Doughty has filed a motion to set aside the verdict in the case, arguing that at least some of the property involved didn’t belong to the developer whose application for rezoning was therefore invalid. Doughty’s motion will be heard in Madison County Superior Court, April 9.

— Cecil Bothwell, staff writer


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About Cecil Bothwell
A writer for Mountain Xpress since three years before there WAS an MX--back in the days of GreenLine. Former managing editor of the paper, founding editor of the Warren Wilson College environmental journal, Heartstone, member of the national editorial board of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, publisher of Brave Ulysses Books, radio host of "Blows Against the Empire" on WPVM-LP 103.5 FM, co-author of the best selling guide Finding your way in Asheville. Lives with three cats, macs and cacti. His other car is a canoe. Paints, plays music and for the past five years has been researching and soon to publish a critical biography--Billy Graham: Prince of War:

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