NORTH TOPSAIL BEACH | Court dates are pending in a suit that 26 plaintiffs — including property owners and the town’s mayor — filed against North Topsail Beach, an engineering firm, a contractor and subcontractor over shoreline restoration.
The suit, which was filed May 2015, critiques efforts to curb erosion at the town’s north end and claims that projects have worsened the shoreline.
Mayor Fred Burns was elected in November. In March 2016, an amended complaint’s plaintiffs include Burns, a trust in his family’s name and new property owners and LLCs. Those new plaintiffs are: Flight Line LLC, Valerie and Jorge Giovinazzo, Roger Coney, the Roger Coney Revocable Trust, Barrkatt LLC, and Jeffrey and Tammy Barringer.
The suit alleges that erosion worsened because of the projects and it seeks “monetary recovery …, a declaratory judgement that North Topsail Beach cannot assess against them any portion of the costs associated with the revetment project …, and mandatory injunctions requiring that the defendants undertake the redesign and reconstruction” of the project, according to a complaint filed last year in Onslow County Superior Court.
In January, Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour Jr. was appointed to the case. That month, Burns and his trust sought voluntary dismissal of their claims against the town only, according to the notice.
A sandbag revetment built early last year is among the projects critiqued by the lawsuit’s complaint.
“The project has been fraught with problems, including, but not limited to, de-scoping of the project, poor design, poor construction controls, inferior materials and improper sandbag placement,” according to the complaint. “Despite starting with a design that was too small and too low, defendants then descoped the project, making the revetment even smaller, lower and sure to fail.”
Late 2014, the town’s Board of Aldermen passed a preliminary assessment resolution that called on beachfront property owners in the area to pay for half of the project, according to the complaint.
Various measures by the board have postponed payment of any property owner assessments, according to information from the town.
Burns said he recuses himself from any discussions related to the lawsuit and the assessments.
“I keep myself out of that as much as possible,” Burns said.
The town’s attorney, Brian Edes, declined to comment on the open case.
The defendants are: the Town of North Topsail Beach; Carolina Marine Structures Inc.; Coastal Planning & Engineering of North Carolina Inc.; and Fish-Tec Inc.
Burns said he received guidance from N.C. League of Municipalities on avoiding discussions regarding the assessments or the suit.
“I already felt like it was a conflict of interest for me,” he said.
For more information, visit NTBNC.org.