***UPDATE**** Town of Matthews v. Wright On March 11, 2014 Judge Donald Bridges ruled in favor of the Wright family. CONCLUSIONS OF LAW Page 7 6. “Based upon the evidence before the Court, the Court finds that Plaintiff’s purported taking is an arbitrary and capricious exercise by the Plaintiff of its powers of eminent domain.” JUDGEMENT 1. “The Plaintiff’s claim to the Defendants’ Property by Eminent Domain is null and void. No portion of the Wrights’ property, as described in their deed, is a public road.” 2. “Plaintiffs claim is dismissed, and the deposited funds shall be applied toward any cost and/or fees awarded in this action, with the balance, if any, returned to Plaintiff.” 3. “Defendants are the prevailing parties, and are given leave to submit a petition for their costs and attorney’s fees as provided in Chapter 40A.” 4. “No ruling is made herein regarding Defendants’ claims for attorney’s fees under N.C. Gen Stat §6-21.7, which ruling is reserved for later adjudication upon Defendants submitting a motion therefore.” Please click & see the attached Judgement.
For twenty years the Town of Matthews has been using our tax dollars to continually pursue the Wright issue. With the new ruling the Wrights have filed a motion for Attorney Fees and Cost. This is a total of $57,982.50 which is rightly deserved. We the citizens of Matthews will incur this cost. Please click & see the attached Motion for Cost & Attorneys Fees.
COMING SOON – The next two articles will be on the 2014 Planning Conference and Town of Matthews v. Wright. One in May and the other in June. I’m not sure which will be first but I think you will find the information for both very interesting. Please help in telling your friends and neighbors of MATTHEWS WATCH.
IN MEMORY OF MR. NEUBERT PURSER – ONE YEAR LATER
I have been asked why I am so passionate about the condemnation of Mr. Pursers 72 acre farm. After speaking with family members and getting to know them, with tears in their eyes they told me about their father and his passion and love for his farm. As I listened my heart broke and you could see the pain and hurt this family has endured. Anyone who does not know the Purser family should get to know them you would be the better for it.
One year ago on March 30, 2013 Matthews’s resident Mr. Neubert Purser passed away. Mr. Purser will always be remembered as a Matthews resident, World War II Veteran whose farm was condemned by the Town of Matthews. Mr. Purser served in the US Army and fought in the Battle of the Bulge in Germany where he sustained a life threatening injury from which he received a Purple Heart and Bronze Star. After his service in the Army he worked two and at times three jobs saving every penny and in 1953 he purchased the 72 acres on Matthews-Mint Hill Road. He built his home and what he was not able to do he subcontracted the work. In July 1954 he moved his family into their new home looking forward to a life long dream of farming his land.
On February 14, 2005 the Town of Matthews voted 6 to 1 in closed session to condemn Mr. Pursers 72 acre farm. Former Mayor Lee Myers made the motion and Mayor Jim Taylor (then Commissioner Taylor) seconded the motion. The vote was supported by Commissioner Kress Query and Former Commissioners Paul Bailey, Suzanne Gulley and Paula Lester. Commissioner Jack Davis was the only no vote.
In September/October of 2003 Mr. Karl Froelich of the Public Trust for Land approached Mr. Purser discussing the option of preserving his property as open space and developing it into a park. Mr. Purser found this to be an interesting proposal and was willing to listen to what Mr. Froelich had to offer. Even though Mr. Froelich was from the Public Trust for Land he was also a representative for the Town of Matthews and Mr. Purser was not aware of this.
The Purser property was 72 acres with 100 to 150 feet of road frontage. Mr. Purser had been approached by a developer and was offered $92,000 per acre but he was not interested he loved his land and his desire was to farm and leave it for an inheritance for his children. In June 2004 Mr. Saxby Chaplin of Public Trust for Land approached the Purser family once again discussing the option of preserving the property as open space. Mr. Purser knew the value of his property but agreed to a 90 day period to have his property appraised. The Purser family was still unaware that Mr. Saxby Chaplin was a representative for the Town of Matthews.
July 2004 the appraisal had come back with the Purser property at $40,000 per acre. Matthews used a county appraiser instead of an independent one. When Mr. Purser was notified of the amount of the appraisal he was not interested in selling his land. He told Mr. Chaplin property nearby had sold for $110.000 per acre. On July 26, 2004 in closed session Commissioner Taylor “asked if they could condemn the property.” Mr Charles Buckley (Town Attorney) said “yes, but its not the cheapest way.” He then suggested “two appraisals makes it more marketable in his opinion.” The Board approved to have a second appraisal. In September 2004 the second appraisal came in lower than the first and the Town knew Mr. Purser would not sell at a lower price. Mr. Purser had made it clear to Mr. Chaplin he was no longer interested in selling when he was first informed of the first appraisal.
The County was offering a matching of dollar for dollar and it would no longer be available after November 2005. Mr. Blodgett said “one of the concerns is time. They have to sell the bonds in November 2005.” Mr. Blodgett asked the Board if they were interested in condemning Mr. Purser’s property if not than he said “the other option is to abandon the large park and concentrate on smaller areas.” Mr. Blodgett said “it seems reasonable to purchase the back half of the property.” It was then decided to try to purchase the back half of the property (around 20 acres) which could be used as a passive area. Mayor Myers asked Mr. Saxby Chaplin to pursue this issue.
In January 2005 Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) approached town staff and made it known about their plans for an elementary school. CMS had heard Matthews was interested in Mr. Purser’s property. There was talk of joint use facilities with Matthews Parks and Recreation and CMS. With CMS now interested condemnation cannot be used because there has to be a public purpose and the concern now for the town was whether or not they would get the 72 acres.
February 7, 2005 closed session Commissioner Query said “he would feel more comfortable if they could say this condemnation is for a park and school.” Mr. Buckley said “they cannot condemn for a school.” Mr. Blodgett said “he would like to see the Town move forward. Zoning is going to take time.”
Mayor Myers asked “if they could have an agreement with the school. Mr. Buckley said the question is if they are going to get the 72 acres and work from there. If they purchase the 72 acres they can sell the acres to CMS and use the funds to upgrade the facilities. Mr. Buckley said his only concern would be the zoning. Mayor Myers said his feeling is to move forward on this. He said it is a win/win situation. Commissioner Taylor said he would love to do this.”
February 14, 2005 closed session Mr. Blodgett said “CMS would like to acquire about 18 acres for an elementary school. they want a joint use agreement. They need to address the zoning issue and the cost of the land. The Town could condemn the entire property, he said, and then if the school wants to come to them they can discuss zoning, cost and an agreement. He would like the Board to go ahead with the condemnation of the property.”
February 28, 2005 closed session Commissioner Taylor “asked if the Pursers are aware that he (Mr. Saxby Chaplin) is an agent for the Town. Mr. Chaplin said no, he said he was representing the Public Trust for Land but there was no question about it that they are aware that the Town was the one who wanted to purchase it.”
March 14, 2005 closed session Mr. Blodgett said “they gave notice of condemnation and started doing the preliminary title search. The Purser family has 71 acres. The condemnation is for everything but the house, he said – the house and a little more than 1-1/2 acres on the Matthews-Mint Hill roadway. Does the Board want to go ahead and condemn it or wait, he asked. The house and lot would be valued less if this is separate. If they do nothing they will not condemn the house. If nothing more is done his house and lot is not condemned.”
August 14, 2006 closed session Town Attorney Buckley said “he sent a memo to the Board regarding this. The bottom line is that the Purser Family wanted $77,500 an acre. After going through the mediation they will agree to $59,000 per acre for the 68.1 acres that the Town acquired through condemnation. They are also willing to include the 1.64 acres in consideration of $215.000, allowing Mr. Purser lifetime rights for occupancy of the premises and allowing him to work his cattle, and have naming rights. Mr. Buckley said they will get a minimum of $43,000 per acre and the $215.000 for the home.”
In Chapter 136 of the North Carolina General Statutes, Article 9 there is a section that provides a “quick take” power. Chapter 136 condemnation does not require a 30 day notice letter. Our Town Attorney Charles Buckley deposited amount needed at the county deeds office and he was given the deed to Mr. Purser’s property. Mr. Purser awoke one morning only to learn that he no longer owned his farm. There are some within the Town of Matthews who will deny the use of eminent domain to condemn Mr. Purser’s farm.
Investopedia: Condemnation “The seizure of a property by a public purpose. Condemnation often occurs when a taxpayer owns property or real estate in a place that has been designated for public use of construction. Condemnation is exercised by public authorities through the power of eminent domain.”
Mr. Pursers property is back once again on the agenda for discussion. In the Board of Commissioners Meeting February 10, 2014 Mayor Taylor “noted that the name of the park has not been established and should not be referenced by anything specific at this time since naming rights have not been committed.”
CLOSED SESSION MEETINGS: June 28, 2004 “Mr. Chaplin said the other issue is that Mr. Purser wants to know if the Town would be willing to use his name on the property. Mayor Myers said they would entertain that.”
“Mr. Chaplin said he would tell Mr. Purser that the Town would be more amenable to allow him naming rights if the price is reasonable.”
February 7, 2005 “Commissioner Lester said they could name the park after him.“
“Mayor Myers summarized: Authorize Saxby Chaplin to go and tell Mr. Purser that we are moving under eminent domain. Move forward on the 14th. Town vision to put school on the property ($43,000 cushion, life estate and naming park).“
February 28, 2005 “The offer was to pay 10% above appraised value and let him stay on the property for life and the park would be named after him.“
July 24, 2005 Mr. Blodgett “Consensus was to offer $58.5 and consider $60.000 with life rights and naming rights if it doesn’t go to court.”
September 26, 2005 “Commissioner Taylor “asked about naming rights for the park.“
August 14, 2006 “They are also willing to include the 1.64 acres in consideration of $215.000, allowing Mr. Purser lifetime rights for occupancy of the premises and allowing him to work his cattle, and have naming rights.”
I think it is pretty obvious the decision of naming rights have been established. If Matthews does not hold to the naming rights as agreed this would be a final act of treachery and would bring more shame to the Town of Matthews. It is time for the Town of Matthews to honor the agreement. How much more will the Town put this family through? By not naming the park after Mr. Purser as promised this would be adding insult to injury. In the end I think Commissioner Jack Davis said it best “it has never been a matter of what they will offer to buy because Mr. Purser statement is that he will not sell.”
***NOTE – IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO READ THE COMPLETE CLOSED SESSION MINUTES THEY ARE POSTED AT TOP OF ARTICLE UNDER PICTURE. CLICK ON “Purser Closed Session Minutes”***