Grandfathering Challenged in NC with Precedent

Hey all,

I know Frank and everybody gets pretty tired of talking about the whole grandfathering thing. And with three state court cases in the last 5 years (Mississippi, Missouri, Iowa) affirming that we can fill vacant pads, as long as the park was conforming when it was built, you’d think it’d be pretty cut and dry. Not so much here in NC!

So here’s the deal, we’re negotiating on a park in a perfect part of town. The park is 27 lots all of which had homes on them until 2-3 years ago. When the current owners bought it out of foreclosure they tore out 13 of the old, dilapidated homes. After that their oversight on the park ceased and now we’re looking at buying it and turning it around. The city is not wanting to allow us to pull homes in to fill the 13 vacant pads and it’s no secret they want this park gone. Here’s the kicker, there’s actually legal precedent in NC saying that they can do that! Here’s the case:

The gist of the case is that a municipality can amortize out non-conforming uses and this includes not allowing you to fill vacated lots, regardless of how long they’ve been empty.

The question is: is this worth fighting? If we had 50 empty pads then we’d fight this all day, but for 13 empty pads it begs the question of whether it’s worth it. We feel that if we took it to the NC supreme court we could not only get our way, but get the previous decision overturned.

Can anybody offer any experience with doing this? Do any other states have such a precedent that has been overturned? If we could pull Frank or anybody with experience here into this thread that would be great!

It’s the same old advice. Start with your state MHA and get their take. Sometimes they’ll refer you to the MHA’s attorney and you can get free legal advice from someone well versed. In our state, not NC, we’re actually going to use the MHA’s attorney to contest a city with the same position. Guy 100% knows how to handle it.