Second suit still moving through system
Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey W. Parker has granted Commonwealth Attorney Art Goff’s motion to dismiss a suit without prejudice against the Nationwide Pentecostal Evangelistic Association brought by County Zoning Administrator Michelle Somers.
After repeated letters of violation to the NPEA, Somers on May 9 filed a petition seeking to enjoin the NPEA from using its 9-acre property on Aaron Mountain Road as a campground during the groups’ annual religious retreats without a permit. The suit was dismissed after Somers inspected NPEA’s property and confirmed that water and electrical hookups for recreational vehicles and campers had been removed or disconnected.
Somers’ petition referred to a series of ongoing violations and proceedings dating back to the start of the 1980s. In 1981, a court action resulted in a Circuit Court decree enjoining NPEA from using the property as a campground or motor home court.
But because of a 1986 zoning ordinance change, the NPEA was eligible to apply for a Special Exception Permit to allow retreat attendees who wished to bring campers to hook up to water and electricity. Despite not having a permit, the NPEA continued to allow recreational vehicle hook-ups.
Finally in April of this year, NPEA applied for the permit. After a public hearing at the Planning Commission’s May 15 meeting, the planners voted unanimously to table further consideration of the application until NPEA’s Reverend Paul Markee could supply additional information and a detailed site plan.
Another suit, this one filed in April by James Grigsby, a neighbor to the NPEA’s property, also complains about the organization’s violation of the 1981 court decree against the use of the property as a campground. Grigsby’s suit also alleges that NPEA is allowing travel trailers on a section of the property restricted by the decree.
In the June 6 circuit court session, Grisgby’s attorney David Konick presented a motion asking to allow Grigsby to intervene in Somers’ suit. Parker declared the motion moot after he dismissed the Somers case.