Petition against supervisors has been amended

Published 11:08 am Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Southampton County Board of Supervisors has until Friday to respond to an amended petition in the lawsuit brought against both the board and individual members concerning their rezoning of the Camp Parkway project. The matter arose this past summer by Dr. Aurelius W. Brantley of Clay Street in Franklin.

The physician claims the board acted arbitrarily and capriciously in amending the County’s comprehensive plan to allow manufacturing development in a residential section of that area. 

Michael Johnson, county administrator for Southampton, confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that the plaintiff filed an amended petition on Oct. 12, and he added that there is no firm date for a hearing of any kind.

“At this point, both lawyers are working on a schedule with a judge,” Johnson said.

Board Chairman Dallas Jones said he’s not heard anything new about the case, and had not talked to Richard Railey, the attorney for the county.

As previously reported, the Southampton County Planning Commission recommended 8-1 that the supervisors should deny rezoning. But on July 5, the Board of Supervisors voted 6-1 to allow rezoning from A-2 (agriculture) and R-1 (residential) to CM-1 (conditional limited industrial); Dr. Alan Edwards for the Jerusalem District, who’s also on Planning, voted no at the July meeting.

Former Newsoms supervisor Glenn Updike said at the time he thinks the board might have had an illegal vote in a past closed session. Specifically, that the board supported the project presented by Franklin Southampton Economic Development Inc. President and CEO Amanda Jarrett.

Both Railey and Franklin District supervisor Barry Porter denied any impropriety took place in closed session. Other supervisors supported them.

Brantley’s attorney is Charles “Chuck” Lollar, who said the reasons for the amendment are two-fold. First, the suit brought in the owner of the property in question, Hampton Roads Development LLC, because that would be affected, and therefore would need an attorney.

“It [the petition] also added allegations about the way that the board in the past — and continues to this day — [has carried out] the procedure used to go in and out of closed sessions at every meeting,” Lollar said.

As mentioned earlier, there’s no set date for a hearing, but Lollar said, “We’re shooting for Dec. 7.”

That Wednesday could be for the pre-trial conference. Originally it was to be done by phone, he added, but the judge [Charles Poston] thought the matter was best done in person.