Property owners at Freeman Park are claiming the town has failed to protect their land and are asking for a Jury Trial to halt all unauthorized activities of their land (Port City Daily/Courtesy Carolina Beach)
Editors note: This is part two of a two-part series regarding the issues and lawsuits surrounding Carolina Beach and Freeman Park.
CAROLINA BEACH — Private property owners at Freeman Park are not giving up the fight against the Town of Carolina Beach and its notices of eminent domain.
Landowners have filed counterclaims in the New Hanover County Superior Court requesting a jury trial to decide the fate of the property.
Apart from its complaints against the town using public trust laws to run a for-profit operation that is directly damaging private property, there are also claims that the town is violating constitutional rights in doing so.
Carolina Freeman, LLC claims in court documents that the town’s use of Freeman Park and the infringement onto private property has caused significant damages to the land — including the ability to develop and market the property.
“These uses, activities, and conduct occurring on the Defendant’s property as a result of the Town’s operation of Freeman Park have caused significant and devastating interference with, and negative impact on, the developability, marketability, and overall fair market value of the Defendant’s property,” the lawsuit alleges.
Violations of the Fifth Amendment
The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution might be most famously known for the protection against self-incrimination, but there is more to it than that.
The full version of the amendment reads, “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
The last part of the amendment is where property owners claim the town has violated its rights.
In the case of Carolina Freeman, LLC, the owners of the land were offered only $1,500 for the taking of its property to do the beach nourishment project — property owners claim this sum is too low to be considered just.
The defendant is requesting the court issue a permanent injunction against the town which would prevent any further taking or unauthorized use of the private property for Freeman Park.
For now, it is up to the courts to decide the fate of the park, a trial date has not been set at the time of publication.
Michael Praats can be reached by email at Michael.firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Michael_Praats