In 1999 the Town of Beech Mountain entered into a land lease with Genesis Wildlife Sanctuary near Buckeye Lake, wherein Genesis could build a health care and educational facility for injured and abandoned birds and wild animals.
The facility was opened to the public in 2001 and has treated and cared for many thousands of birds and animals since that time. As a recognized and accredited animal care facility, the center, through it founder and primary care giver, Leslie Hayhurst, has also served as a training and educational facility for hundreds of college interns studying animal care at various universities throughout the state of North Carolina and other neighboring states. During the first 10 years of the lease, the Town and Genesis served the community with a harmonious and unfettered relationship.
Suddenly, and without notice to Genesis, the Town passed a new Town Ordinance that immediately prohibited the housing and care for the animals and birds, thereby changing the allowed uses within the lease, which then caused Genesis to allegedly be in violation of specific pre-approved uses of said lease. The Town advised Genesis that the state of North Carolina had demanded Genesis operation be relocated because it was polluting the Buckeye Lake water supply and gave Genesis 6 months to remove all animals and birds from the premises, or otherwise Genesis would be in breach of the lease with the Town and would face legal action by the Town to enforce the lease.
Genesis, having been led to believe the state of North Carolina had demanded the Town require Genesis operations be relocated and that the new Ordinance was properly adopted and therefore legal, voluntarily agreed to remove all animals and birds within the specified timeframe.
The removal was completed in February 2011, as was acknowledged by the Town Council in March 2011, thereby keeping Genesis in compliance with its remaining lease terms. Genesis is currently treating and caring for the animals at various private locations. The Buckeye Lake center has been and is continuing to be used as the Genesis Education Center.
Again, suddenly and without notice, one (1) year later, in April 2012, the Town filed a lawsuit against Genesis alleging numerous unfounded, erroneous and untrue breaches of said lease and demanding that Genesis be ejected from the Buckeye Lake Genesis Education Center premises and the remaining lease term be voided.
Genesis then retained the Charles Clement Law firm in Boone NC, to represent Genesis and to seek compensation for the harm and damages previously bestowed upon Genesis for the illegal and unwarranted requirement that Genesis remove and relocate the animals, birds and care facility. Further investigations and discussions with the NC Department of Environmental and Natural Resources have confirmed that no demands were ever made. Therefore, the removal and relocation demands made by the Town were unwarranted and unnecessary.
Genesis believes it will be fully vindicated when all facts and allegations are heard and adjudicated in an impartial setting before a court of proper jurisdiction.
A thorough review of the response and counterclaim to the lawsuit will highlight numerous violations by the Town of Beech Mountain as to Genesis’ lease rights, civil rights and constitutional rights.