Thursday, December 8, 2022

What’s Carolina Beach offering Freeman Park LLCs for properties? Their assessed values

While property owners are still fighting with the town about its removal of fencing and sea oats, the public now knows how much money the town says is 'just compensation' for eminent domain

The Town of Carolina Beach has begun the process of eminent domain to acquire land owned by LLCs near Freeman Park (Port City Daily photo/COURTESY CAROLINA BEACH)
The Town of Carolina Beach has begun the process of eminent domain to acquire land owned by LLCs near Freeman Park (Port City Daily photo/COURTESY CAROLINA BEACH)

CAROLINA BEACH — Landowners at Freeman Park are appealing the Town of Carolina Beach’s removal of privately installed rope fencing and sea oats on the beach in February.

According to attorney Clifton Hester, representing Freeman Beach LLC, the planting of oats and the installation of the fence was “an investment in the preservation of the beach.”

In a letter addressed to Town Manager Michael Cramer on Feb. 21, Hester explains his concerns with the removal of the fencing and why he believes it should have been allowed to remain.

According to Hester, the notice the town sent property owners to remove the fencing was in error, and that the property owners had not violated any ordinance. He also claims the plantings of sea oats were a preservation attempt.

“The plantings made are part of my clients’ efforts to preserve the environment and are not development nor structures under the CAMA regulations. The zoning ordinance requires a site plan only in limited circumstances, which do not appear to apply to our situation. The fence permit clearly is inapplicable to our case and the remaining ordinances do not appear to apply either,” Hester wrote.

He concluded by stating his expectation that Carolina Beach Police would provide protection for the beach grass if the town removed the posts.

Now, Hester has filed an official application for appeal to the Board of Adjustment to contest the Town’s actions.

An ongoing conflict

This is not the first time the Town and members of Freeman Beach LLC have had disagreements.

In February, member of Freeman Beach LLC, Steve Fort, emailed Town Manager Michael Cramer as part of a series of emails between the two.

“I contend that the Town of Carolina Beach has been the aggressive party dating back to 2004 when the town declared all of the North End to be Freeman Park … I would say passive aggression against the owners has been ongoing for years by not protecting the dunes and enforcing park rules,” Fort wrote.

According to Fort, the lack of communication from property owners about the installation of the grass was in response to the town not notifying property owners of its actions.

“You also expressed dismay at my failure to notify the Town of intentions to plant grass on the beach.  Again, so far as I know, the Town has never notified Freeman Beach owners, past or current, of the Town’s planned actions on Freeman Park … And I found out yesterday from a town employee that the Town had plans to rework all the campsite ropes.  A notice of your intentions to cooperate with us may have had some influence on our actions,” Fort wrote.

Eminent domain and the LLCs

In March, the Town of Carolina Beach’s Town Council made a motion to notify property owners at the north end of the island its intention to acquire private property, hopefully through mutual agreement, but if not, through imminent domain.  

Around the same time, the town entered into an agreement to purchase a piece of land for $500,000 from another private individual.  

The use of eminent domain is a tool that can be used by both government’s as well as private enterprises, and while it does allow these entities to acquire private land, it requires the payment of “just compensation.” But, what is considered just?

According to state law, “the measure of compensation for a taking of property is its fair market value.”

But according to the condemnation notices that were prepared by the town as part of the acquisition process for the land located at Freeman Park, the town has only offered land owners a fraction of the past sale prices of the land in question.

The roughly 170-acre parcel of land at Freeman Park is valued by the county at $42,400 (Port City Daily photo/COURTESY NHC)
The roughly 170-acre parcel of land at Freeman Park is valued by the county at $42,400 (Port City Daily photo/COURTESY NHC)

Freeman Beach LLC, which owns the largest piece of property of 170-acres, is being offered $42,400 as just compensation.

That amount aligns with the value of the land according to New Hanover County’s tax department. However, the most recent sale of the property was more $1 million.

Other offers to different LLCs include, $16,200 to DRDK, LLC, $12,800 to Carolina Freeman LLC, and $3,300 B&F Enterprises LLC. For each property in question, Carolina Beach has offered the respective LLCs the county’s appraised tax value.

The following table examines the last sale prices of properties in question. 

R08500-006-990-000 Freeman Beach LLC $1,377,000 August 2016
R08500-006-008-000 B&F Enterprises of Calabash LLC $60,000 October 2011
R08500-006-007-001 Carolina Freeman LLC $75,000 February 2016
R08500-006-007-000 Carolina Freeman LLC $300,000 March 2016
R08500-006-006-000 Carolina Freeman LLC $300,000 March 2016
R08500-006-005-000 Carolina Freeman LLC $175,000 August 2017
R08500-006-003-000 DRDK LLC $1,000,000 June 2017
R08500-006-002-000 Winnie Everett Futch Heirs Unknown Unknown

 

Members of Carolina Freeman LLC Don Fromyduval and Stephen R. Fort did not respond to requests for comment at the time of publication.

Freeman Beach LLC Notice by Michael James on Scribd


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