Plaintiffs plan to appeal once order is filed
The latest lawsuit against Wesley Chapel doctor Michael Land has been dismissed. Union County Superior Court Judge Mark Klass informed the parties of his decision Friday, Feb. 10. The order has yet to be filed, as both parties have to read through and agree to its wording before signing off.
Land declined comment on the decision, saying he preferred to wait until the order was filed to discuss the latest case.
Attorney Paul deMontesquiou, who represented 40 of Land’s neighbors in the lawsuit, did not return calls by presstime.
Last fall the plaintiffs filed suit, alleging Land owed them monetary damages for lowering their property values by operating his shooting range. The lawsuit also focused on the doctor’s use of machine guns, as well as alleged damage the plaintiffs say he’s caused to the community, labeling Land’s use of guns as an assault on the community. Land’s attorney Tate Helms argued that the residents didn’t show any evidence that his client caused damages.
Land bought his property, 1402 Bloomsberry Lane, in 1991 and built a shooting range. The village of Wesley Chapel incorporated in 1998 and annexed Land’s property in 1999. In May 2008, Wesley Chapel adopted an ordinance that makes firing weapons in the municipality illegal in most instances, and then ordered Land to stop shooting at the property. Land appealed to the Wesley Chapel Board of Adjustment, which ruled in the village’s favor. In 2009, Land filed an appeal asking the Union County Superior Court to review the decision. Superior Court Judge Erwin Spainhour ruled for Land, stating that, because the range was built before the village annexed the property, it’s governed by Union County’s zoning laws, not Wesley Chapel’s. In 2010, the North Carolina Court of Appeals also ruled in Land’s favor. Judge Robert Hunter Jr. wrote Land did not violate the county’s 1988 ordinance. Because Land bought the 5.68-acre property in July 1991, Union County’s 1988 zoning ordinance is in effect. That ordinance doesn’t list a shooting range as a regulated use. The 2000 version does.
The order is expected to be filed within the next week.