Turnpike files suit against Belhaven

Published 11:33 am Sunday, July 20, 2008

By Staff
Town claims that theagreement was ‘one-sided’
Staff Writer
On Thursday afternoon, Turnpike Properties, Inc. filed suit against the town of Belhaven, claiming damages for breach of contract and specific performance.
In the complaint’s prayer for relief, the company asks the Beaufort County Superior Court to “enter a judgment requiring the town to specifically perform each of its obligations under the agreement” and that the company “be awarded compensatory damages in an amount in excess of $10,000.”
The agreement stated that Belhaven would extend sewer service to a Turnpike Properties development site at Shram’s Beach. Turnpike Chairman and CEO Bill Hollan originally brought the proposal to the Belhaven Town Council on August 16, 2004. The council moved to approve the agreement at its regular meeting on May 14, 2007. With the approval of the council, former Town Manager Tim Johnson executed the agreement.
In a letter dated April 29, Interim Town Manager Guinn Leverett declared the agreement “null and void,” spearheading Turnpike’s current lawsuit against the town.
O’Neal and Leverett have yet to read the lawsuit. They both claim that the town hasn’t been served.
Declaring the agreement “null and void” was a great decision, according to O’Neal.
Prior to the town manager’s decision, the town hired an engineer to determine the break even point for the town in regards to the agreement, O’Neal said.
Among the town’s responsibilities to the development site’s sewer system is upkeep of the pipelines and providing weekly inspections.
The sewer system is provided to 250 house sites, but one house is currently built, according to O’Neal.
As part of the company’s complaint against the town, Turnpike is asking for compensatory damages. According to the complaint, “Turnpike has been proceeding with work on the project, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on items such as planning and engineering.”
O’Neal was not concerned with the damages, instead focusing on the town’s subsidies to Pantego and Northside High School.