It's Thursday May 23, 2013
News From The Village Updated Almost Daily
June 28, 2012
On July 3, Oriental residents get their one formal public hearing to weigh in about the land swap on Oriental’s harbor. In that deal, the Town would get 55 feet of bulkheaded harbor front and a 4500 square foot piece of land from Chris Fulcher in exchange for giving up almost three times as much property and about 80 feet of harbor front.South Avenue where it meets the Oriental harborfront, Thanksgiving 2011. The Town had to wage a long legal battle against Lacy Henry who claimed the land for himself, and finally won the court case in 2009. As the Town now proposes to abandon the land it won, Mr. Henry’s name has resurfaced.
Since January, those following the proposed land swap have spoken in terms of the Town working with property owner Chris Fulcher. But as the date approaches for the Town’s first official public hearing on abandoning the rights of way, another name has been coming up: Lacy Henry.Lacy Henry, The Town of Oriental, And South Avenue
Lacy Henry was the focus of a court case in Oriental a few years ago. In the 1990’s he erected a chain link fence across the harbor end of South Avenue. For a decade and a half, Henry and his fence blocked the public’s access to land — and a harbor — that was the public’s right.From the mid 1990’s until 2009, the public was unable to go to the harbor end of South Avenue because Lacy Henry had put up a chainlink fence across the land, claiming the land was his. A court eventually ruled that it was not.
Henry wanted that land and riparian rights off of South Avenue so that, combined with the lot and water rights he owned to the left of it, he could build a marina.Lacy Henry’s CAMA permit application of a decade ago, for building a marina in the waters off of South Avenue and an adjacent lot he owned to the south of it. He needed the South Avenue right of way (upper half of the yellow bordered area) as well as its waters to make the plan fly and in the mid-1990’s fenced off the Town’s right of way from the public. The Town had to spend some $25,000 on a court case to win back what current Town leaders propose to abandon.
The Town sued Henry. Reclaiming that end of South Avenue on the harbor cost the taxpayers of Oriental $25,000. The Town won its case in the NC Court of Appeals in 2009.Volunteers such as Stephanie Carperos and Jim Edwards with the Parks and Recreation Committee cleaned up the brush and debris at South Avenue’s harbor end in October 2010. This land, and the 75-80 feet of waterfront and riparian rights are what the Town proposes to abandon.
The case won, attention turned to planning a public dock for that property. Then, in January, the prospect of a land swap was first publicly raised.
Meanwhile, on January 5, Chris Fulcher bought all of Lacy Henry’s property near South Avenue. This includes the harbor front lot where Mr. Henry had once planned a marina in addition to the property (with the gray house) on the corner of South Avenue and Avenue A. In all, it was approximately 27,000 square feet of land. Based on the $2,100 tax “stamp” paid at the county courthouse, the transaction was $1,050,000Avenue A whose 6,000 square feet Town officials want to abandon. At left, the lot with grey house at the corner of South Avenue and Avenue A which Lacy Henry sold to Chris Fulcher on January 5. Also included in the million dollar deal was the Neuse River lot in front of this and the harbor front lot next to the Town’s South Avenue Right of way.
Then, on January 13, eight days after that real estate transaction, Oriental’s Town Board held a closed door session where the Town Manager Bob Maxbauer displayed a sketch and pitched the idea of a land swap on the harbor.
In the ensuing months, the discussion has been about a swap between Chris Fulcher and the Town. However, a document at the Register of Deeds office shows that Chris Fulcher did not buy the property with a mortgage from a bank. Instead, Lacy Henry provided $900,000 in owner financing to Chris Fulcher. Lacy Henry is, as Oriental’s Town Manager put it recently, the lien holder.
This came up at the June 13 meeting of the Oriental Parks and Rec Committee which in early May had sent a list of questions to the Town Manager regarding the land swap.Encroachment Claimed By Lacy Henry’s Attorneys
One particular aspect of the swap that Maxbauer spoke at length about was why he and other swap supporters thought it was to the Town’s advantage to give up Avenue A. Maxbauer says it would cost Oriental $75,000 if it kept that road.
The reason, he says, is something called “encroachment.” After the Town won its lawsuit with Lacy Henry over South Avenue in 2009, Maxbauer says, Henry’s attorneys contacted the Town to say that the Town was encroaching on the lot Henry owned at the corner of South Avenue and Avenue A. The encroachment: the asphalted curve at the corner of Henry’s (now Fulcher’s) land.Manager: Town Has No Leg To Stand On
Maxbauer told the Parks and Rec Committee that if the Town kept Avenue A and South Avenue it would have “no recourse” but to fix that as Henry’s attorney demanded. Maxbauer put the price tag at $75,000. That’s for asphalting, moving a fire hydrant and a utility pole and moving the road bed toward the harbor.Town Manager Bob Maxbauer in an April visit to the intersection of Avenue A and South Avenue. Accepting the encroachment claim of Lacy Henry’s attorneys, Maxbauer says the Town would have to spend $75,000 to move Avenue A to a point near where he is standing. He says the Town should just give up Avenue A – the road stretching in to the distance here. It amounts to 6,000 square feet.