Judge Marlene Hyatt has ruled in favor of the Pack family’s lawsuit against the Parkside land sale, according to attorneys on both sides. However, further hearings may be necessary to determine the exact status of the property.
Joe Ferikes, the attorney for the Pack family, confirmed that around noon today, Hyatt informed him that she had upheld Ferikes’ motion for summary judgment in favor of the Pack heirs. At the same time, she dismissed two motions filed jointly by developer Stewart Coleman’s company, Black Dog Realty, and Buncombe County to dismiss the lawsuit or to rule in their favor. Hyatt heard arguments from both sides on Monday. Ferikes added that Hyatt had not yet informed him about the rationale behind her decision.
“There’s still a lot to be done, and there may need to be further hearings to determine exactly what kind of relief is granted,” Ferikes told Xpress. “Also, the defendants obviously have a chance to appeal.”
The lawsuit argued that George Pack donated the land to Buncombe County around the turn of the 20th century for public use in perpetuity, and thus the county was not within its rights to sell it to Coleman in 2006. Coleman plans to build the nine-story Parkside condominium project on the site and adjacent property.
While Coleman still technically owns the land, Ferikes cautioned that it would be a “grave disservice” for him to try to build on or modify it by cutting down the magnolia tree that’s become a rallying point for Parkside opponents (something Coleman has promised to do in early September.)
Charlotte attorney Pat Kelly, who’s representing Black Dog in the case, told Xpress that he thought it would be “premature for me to say” what the defendants’ next course of action was.
“I envision that we’re going to sit down with our clients, and we’re definitely going to have some decisions to make,” Kelly said. “I’m a little puzzled as there’s no written order right now. The plaintiffs [the Pack family] have asked for various forms of relief, including the property reverting to them. Does this mean that it reverts to them? Does it mean that the judge is saying the original sale was illegal and is ordering the county to buy it back? There are still a lot of practical questions to be resolved.”
Both the Buncombe County commissioners and Asheville City Council have been waiting for the ruling too, and whatever questions remain, commissioner David Young hopes the matter is finally decided.
“The judge has ruled, and hopefully we can put this behind us,” Young told Xpress. “Obviously, we were waiting on a decision in this case.
“Let’s pay back the $322,000 and move on,” Young said, referencing the amount of money that Coleman paid the county for the tiny piece of land.
— David Forbes, staff writer