September 21, 2009 Update
On the 7th of July, 2009, the North Carolina Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the Pamlico County Superior Court in the case of TOWN OF ORIENTAL , plaintiff v. LACY HENRY and wife, JUDY B. HENRY, Defendants. "The Town contends," the Court said, "the trial court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of the Henrys and in not granting summary judgment in favor of the town. We agree." The court concluded its unanimous opinion as follows: "Accordingly, as there were no genuine issues of material fact as to whether the Town was the owner of the South Avenue terminus, the Town was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. We hold that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of the Henrys and in failing to grant summary judgment in favor of the Town. We thus reverse and remand this matter to the Pamlico County Superior Court with instructions to enter an order consistent with this opinion."
The Henrys petitioned the Court of Appeals for a rehearing, as was their right. The Court of Appeals denied the petition, whereupon the Henrys petitioned the North Carolina Supreme Court to grant a discretionary review of the Court of Appeals decision. That is where the matter stands.
In May, 2008, PamlicoInk published an interview with Mr. Lacy Henry. In response, I wrote the following letter to the editor of The Pamlico News:
May 21, 2008
In a recent interview, Mr. Lacy Henry seems puzzled that the Town of
There is no mystery here. The Board of Commissioners has a duty to protect the town’s assets.
Mr. Henry has a lot to say about this. Not all of it is accurate. At a hearing last New Year’s Eve in Bayboro, he told Judge Crow that he and his father before him paid taxes on the terminus of South Avenue since the early 1950’s. Public records show that is not the case. They have never paid taxes on the disputed parcel.
In the interview, Mr. Henry recalls with nostalgia his family’s operation of a marine railway at the site. Speaking of the railway’s remaining track and winch, he says “if you move it, you will never get it back.” He also emphasizes that he holds a CAMA permit for an eight slip marina at the site, combining the town’s
From the town’s viewpoint, we know that if we lose control over the end of
If the street end remains in the town’s hands, we can build another town dock, serving as a powerful draw to the 14,000 boats per year passing up and down the ICW only two miles away. This would bring customers for all of the town’s businesses and a lot of goodwill for future business. Cruisers attracted by free docking spend money and come back. If Mr. Henry wants to preserve a piece of the town’s past and attract visitors, he can certainly find a way to pool resources and work together with the town.
The struggle between the town and Mr. Henry isn’t about the past – it’s about the future.