DAVIDSON – A group of town residents and property owners have filed a lawsuit against the Town of Davidson and other entities challenging the legitimacy of the process that led to zoning changes related to plans for a new hotel on Griffith Street.

The lawsuit, with 24 individuals from the Spinnaker Cove and Westside Terrace neighborhoods listed as plaintiffs, contains six claims accusing the town of not following established procedural and zoning guidelines. A seventh argument included in the lawsuit claims that a North Carolina General Statute limiting the opportunity for judicial review of a municipal board decision is unconstitutional.

The lawsuit was filed in Mecklenburg County Superior Court on Jan. 16. It has been the subject of three Davidson town board closed sessions –  one held before and one held after the board’s Jan. 23 meeting, and another held during the Jan. 26 lunch break at the board’s planning retreat.

The town has not issued an official statement related to the lawsuit. And on Feb. 1, Public Information Officer Cristina Shaul reiterated that town officials have decided they are “not going to comment on the pending litigation.”

Plaintiffs have also declined to comment. Luke Charde, of Spinnaker Court, is listed as a primary plaintiff (the town’s elected officials have referenced the lawsuit as “Charde, et al” when announcing the subject for closed sessions). 

In an Feb. 3 email, Charde wrote “At this time we have no comments to make about the lawsuit. The complaint speaks for itself.” 

The plaintiffs have hired Charlotte attorney Kenneth Davies to represent them.

Lawsuit accusations

The lawsuit stems from an approval in late November of last year of a Hyatt Place hotel to be built off Griffith Street. The project, which drew a lot of criticism from residents, was one of the last things approved by the previous town board prior to the changeover that followed the election.

The lawsuit lists claims that town board action to approve amendments to an existing conditional-use plan involved: violations of statutory and ordinance procedures; “spot zoning” implementation; non-compliance with town planning ordinances; the town exceeding its authority; violations of procedural due process requirements; and failure to approve a proper consistency statement.

A state statute that limits judicial review of local government consistency statements is also targeted in the lawsuit.

The defendants named are: the Town of Davidson; Davidson East Condominium Associates, owner of the two Davidson Gateway Drive parcels that were the subjects of the zoning change and are now approved as a future hotel site; Beacon IMG, Inc., the Charlotte-based hotel ownership group that applied for the rezoning; and Nish Patel, a Beacon IMG partner also listed as an applicant on the rezoning request.

Cause of the controversy

The lawsuit contests town board actions that amended parts of a conditional-use plan clearing the way for Beacon to proceed with plans to build a four-story Hyatt Place on 2.1 acres in the southeast quadrant of the Griffith Street-Davidson Gateway Drive intersection.

The potential hotel site is across Griffith Street from parts of the 39-lot Spinnaker Cove neighborhood and just west of homes along Lakeside Drive and Westside Terrace. Owners of 11 properties in Spinnaker Cove and four properties along Westside Terrace are listed as plaintiffs (nine of the properties are owned by couples that are listed individually as plaintiffs)

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