The town of Carolina Beach has settled a class action claim that it illegally charged builders water and sewer fees for $850,000, the plaintiffs’ attorney reports.
Hunter Bryson of Whitfield Bryson in Raleigh said that the settlement affects about 110 developers and individual home builders who filed the lawsuit following a 2016 North Carolina Supreme Court decision, Quality Built Homes Inc. v. Town of Carthage. In that opinion, the court ruled that municipalities and counties had no right to charge developers upfront fees for water and sewer services for future services.
Bryson said the firm has helped settle a series of similar claims in light of the decision. Developers and other home builders allege that towns, cities, and counties have been improperly charging the fees and then using them to fund contemporaneous projects rather than future projects.
Stier Construction Company and Bryan Humphrey Design Build were the lead plaintiffs in the latest lawsuit. The Carolina Beach Town Council authorized the settlement on July 14, and New Hanover County Superior Court Judge Frank Jones approved it on Nov. 5.
“We are pleased to get a good result,” Bryson said.
Daniel Hartzog Jr. of Hartzog Law Group in Cary represented the Town of Carolina Beach. He declined to comment.
SETTLEMENT REPORT — CLASS ACTION
Injuries alleged: Unlawful assessment of impact fees
Case name: Stier Construction Co., et al v. Town of Carolina Beach
Court: New Hanover County Superior Court
Case No.: 19-CVS-299
Judge: Frank Jones
Date of settlement: Nov. 5
Attorney for plaintiff: Hunter Bryson of Whitfield Bryson in Raleigh
Attorney for defendant: Daniel Hartzog of Hartzog Law Group in Cary