Cross Creek Arena owner Jay Brown is tired of being stuck in limbo.
Seven months after his property, at 1916 McIntyre Road in Wingate, was shut down by the county, nobody will tell him what needs to happen to open it up. Speaking to county commissioners during their Monday, Aug. 1, meeting, he explained that the county’s current determination saying he needs special-use permits won’t work for his facility.
“I’ve had enough,” Brown said. “I have tried to get the proper information from several county officials. I’ve been put off; I’ve been lied to. Nobody can give me a straight answer.”
The county’s original reason for shutting Cross Creek down, officials say, was for violations of state commercial building codes. That went away after the N.C. General Assembly changed the requirements this year.
However, as Union County Weekly reported July 29, the county still wants Cross Creek to remain closed, now saying Brown has held events without getting a special-use permit.
Seeing as the county had to sign off on construction when he built the arena in 2007 and had no complaints since, Brown doesn’t understand why he suddenly needs permission to operate his facility.
Brown told commissioners that, in the last few months, he’s tried to get answers as to what is defined as an event. Would he need a permit for the activities he holds throughout the year for special needs kids? Also, since Cross Creek is a business, Brown told commissioners that he tries to fill up the arena every day, booking as many events as he can.
“I had people at my location almost every day,” Brown said. “Now, just my immediate family is allowed, I’m told.”
With that being the case, if Brown applied for a special-use permit and was granted four or five, the same as the county gave to fellow rodeo owner Pinky Marsh, it wouldn’t work, Brown said. He told commissioners that 365 permits would be needed, so he could book events throughout the year.
“This county does nothing for the equine community, even though we have the largest per capita of horses in the state,” Brown said. “Instead we built a conference center for meetings and weddings. I built (a facility), but now I’m not allowed to operate it.”
Brown told commissioners he knew of other rodeos and horse facilities being allowed to operate throughout the county without special-use permits. The reason Cross Creek was being singled out, Brown said, is because it was close in location to Marsh’s farm. Since the county is currently in a legal battle with Marsh over regulatory authority, Brown said, he believed they were shutting down Cross Creek to help support their case.
Marshville farmer Thomas “Pinky” Marsh has been in and out of court over the last four years with the county, arguing they don’t have the authority to regulate the Mexican-style rodeos he staged at his property. The difference between the two is Marsh went to the county to request a special-use permit and was granted one to hold four rodeos a year. In multiple court rulings, judges came back to the fact Marsh had requested a permit, stating that act gave the county definite jurisdiction over the events. Brown on the other hand never approached the county, with an investigation only taking place after an anonymous complaint was filed.
“I can’t stay closed forever,” Brown told commissioners, adding that if the situation isn’t addressed soon, he would be forced to pursue legal action.