County awaits judge’s decision in lawsuit

Published 12:10 pm Friday, February 24, 2017

Judge Charles Poston is reportedly still thinking about the case presented to him on Feb. 9 in Suffolk. Specifically, Dr. Aurelius Brantley filed suit this past summer against the Southampton County Board of Supervisors collectively and individually. The Franklin 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. The petition was amended and filed in mid-October.

As reported before, 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.

The recent hearing in Suffolk is on a demurrer, according to county administrator Mike Johnson. A demurrer is a legal motion that admits the truth of a plaintiff’s presented facts, but contends that the facts are either irrelevant or insufficient to justify ruling in the plaintiff’s favor.

“The judge is taking the matter under advisement,” said Johnson, who added that the judge would return a decision promptly.

Charles Lollar, attorney for Brantley, confirmed that Poston is still considering the matter.

Brett Spain of Wilcox Savage in Norfolk confirmed he is representing the board as a whole, and individually, but for Edwards, who is reportedly being represented by other counsel.