Court Finds in Favor of Leland in Illegal Water and Sewer Transfer
Belville to return all assets to H2GO
The Brunswick County Superior Court has issued a significant decision today in the case involving the attempted transfer of the Brunswick Regional Water and Sewer (H2GO) Sanitary District – including millions in cash and assets – to the Town of Belville in 2017.
Out of respect for the judicial process, Town of Leland officials have refrained from commenting on the case thus far, but in light of this decision believe it is appropriate to now make limited comments.
On Monday, April 22, Superior Court Judge Charles Henry ruled that the prior H2GO Board’s agreement with the Town of Belville Board of Commissioners to convey H2GO’s water and sewer systems to Belville is “unlawful, void and of no effect.” Further, Judge Henry declared that H2GO is the “lawful owner” of all assets and debts involved in the transfer.
"This is a strong decision in Leland's favor and a good decision for all North Carolina citizens," said Joe Dowdy of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, LLP, Leland's lead attorney in this matter. "It prevents the illegal H2GO-Belville transfer from becoming a blueprint for other local governments to give themselves away to avoid the results of an election and the laws addressing how those local governments must conduct business."
Town of Leland officials appreciate the court's time and hard work on this important case and are grateful the court recognized the underlying transaction for what it was – an unprecedented and patently illegal abuse of power that disempowered the freeholders, ratepayers and voters of the Sanitary District and damaged the Town of Leland and its citizens.
The Town of Leland had no choice but to file a lawsuit against the prior H2GO Board and Town of Belville Board of Commissioners because that unlawful transaction would have placed control of water and sewer within Leland in the hands of a competitor that opposes Leland's growth and economic expansion, and would have risked ownership and operation of the water and sewer systems by an unqualified entity.
“The Sanitary District and Belville commissioners did not follow the processes and procedures laid out in N.C. General Statutes when making their decision and, in doing so, effectively subverted the will of thousands of Leland citizens and disenfranchised hundreds of voters,” Leland Mayor Brenda Bozeman said. "This decision upholds our democracy. We may disagree on the issues or how to solve a problem,
but we have to go through the lawful process of resolving those disagreements and finding the solutions. Our opponents didn't do that here, as the court recognized."
Mayor Bozeman added her thanks to Leland’s citizens for their support of the Town’s leadership in this matter.
"I truly appreciate their patience and courage as Town leadership stood up against a threat to Leland's interests, our people’s well-being, and the principle of representative government," she said.