Bath prevails in legal action

Published 10:01 am Thursday, August 12, 2010

Staff Writer

A Superior Court judge has ruled in favor of the Town of Bath and the Quarterdeck Marina in a legal action brought by eight town residents.
Town Attorney Chip Edwards confirmed that Judge Marvin K. Blount determined the town acted properly when it granted the Quarterdeck’s owners permission to make limited changes to their property.
“He affirmed the decision previously made by the town,” Edwards told the Washington Daily News.
Among the changes that had been on hold pending the judge’s ruling were the permitted construction of a staircase to and a deck on the roof of the store.
The judge likely will ask the prevailing attorneys to prepare a proposed order to be reviewed by all parties, including the petitioners’ attorney, Fred Mattox of Greenville.
“My initial response is basically that until I read the court judgment, I really don’t know (the judge’s) logic,” Mattox said. “The case was an honest difference of opinion between the parties. My clients feel that the expansion of the Quarterdeck would be detrimental to their property.”
Asked whether it was too early to tell whether the petitioners would pursue an appeal, Mattox replied, “An appeal is always possible.”
The petitioners have the option of taking their case to the N.C. Court of Appeals.
Early last month, Blount listened to arguments in the case from Mattox, Edwards and an attorney representing John and Cindy Baldwin, who own and operate the Quarterdeck.
The eight petitioners, all of whom live near the Quarterdeck, had asked the court to overturn the Bath Board of Commissioners’ decision to let the Baldwins proceed with certain planned projects.
The projects included the roof-deck construction, the widening of a walkway and the replacement of existing piers and bulkhead.
Through their attorney, the petitioners argued those alterations would make a noise, trash and boat-congestion nuisance worse while lowering their property values.
It appears the court disagreed, though the judge’s rationale wasn’t immediately clear in the absence of a written ruling.
“Obviously, we’re very pleased,” said John Baldwin. “Hopefully, this will be an end to any contention concerning this and everybody can just go back to eating ice cream.”
Ice cream is among the Quarterdeck’s star attractions, the Baldwins have indicated.
“I think we’re planning on this Friday to give out free ice cream all day at the Quarterdeck,” he said.
The eight residents who petitioned the court were Douglas LeFevre and his wife Mary, William Fath and his wife Jerrie, David Wood II and his wife Nancy and Walter Hawkins and his wife Dorothy.
Douglas LeFevre declined to comment until he’d had a chance to see the ruling. He was unsure whether the petitioners would appeal.
Bath Mayor Jimmy Latham hadn’t heard about the judge’s ruling Tuesday evening.
Latham said Edwards briefed the town board on the legal issue during its regular meeting Monday.
In an e-mail distributed Tuesday, Baldwin, who resided in Raleigh before moving to Bath, thanked a number of people for their moral support while the case proceeded.
“I would have moved back to Raleigh a long time ago, had I not met so many incredible people in this town,” she wrote.