Response to Virginia Penley
The following was printed in the February 2016 edition of the Chatham County Line in response to claims and assumptions made by Virginia Penley
By Amanda Robertson, Chair
Pittsboro Matters, Inc.
The Board of Directors of Pittsboro Matters believes readers of the Chatham County Line deserve to know the facts concerning false statements recently made by Virginia Penley regarding our ongoing lawsuit and appeal involving the Town of Pittsboro and intervener, Chatham Park Investors. In this regard, we consider Penley’s attack to be a diversionary tactic designed to draw public attention away from serious questions involving her colleague and mentor, former Pittsboro Mayor Randy Voller. These questions need to be answered for the public now.
- Under what authority does Randy Voller organize secret meetings with county and town commissioners and CPI to help sell the idea of having the public help finance Chatham Park’s infrastructure?
- Is Randy Voller a paid employee/consultant of CPI?
- Is Jim Goodnight still financially backing CPI?
- If so, why does CPI suddenly need Pittsboro and Chatham County to financially support their infrastructure development?
The public waits for Voller and CPI to answer these questions before Chatham County taxpayers are hooked into providing millions of dollars for either direct or indirect financing of any part of Chatham Park.
We have consulted with our attorney, Robert Hornik, on the following specific claims Virginia Penley, who is not an attorney, has made. His points, in bold, highlight the inaccurate claims made by Ms. Penley.
- Regarding Penley’s claim that the Court found in its order that we have zero members: The Court did NOT find that Pittsboro Matters has no members; the Court said in paragraph 8 of its Order that a factual dispute existed on the question.
In fact, our lawsuit states that we have more than 200 members. This was not challenged by CPI. They asserted only a minor filing error, which we have since corrected. (See below)
- Regarding Penley’s claim that Pittsboro Matters has been “sloppy with our paperwork”: Perhaps instead we should consider our first and second lawsuits where the Town and CPI denied outright that there had been any procedural errors on their part, as we alleged in our Complaints, but then turned around and corrected the very same procedures we said had been improperly performed, or not performed at all.Penley’s claim of “sloppiness” has to do with a mistake involving checking the wrong box on a form, which has no bearing on our member’s status per the NC Secretary of State’s office.
- Penley claimed our case was dismissed with prejudice because it “lacked credibility.” There was never a question of “credibility.” The judge said that even if the facts we alleged were true, he didn’t think we had stated a legal claim for relief.This was surprising to our attorney, and one of many reasons for our appeal.
- Penley claimed that for a civil matter a dismissal with prejudice is over forever. This again is false if that Order is being appealed, which it is. Regardless, if it is ultimately upheld, it does NOT mean that citizens cannot in the future challenge decisions made by the board about Chatham Park.
- Penley claimed the court order was a direct stab at our credibility and we have been effectively barred from appearing before the Superior Court again on these issues.
This ruling had absolutely nothing to do with our credibility. The judge simply disagreed with some of our legal arguments. We believe our claims will be upheld on appeal and we will be able to continue pursuing our lawsuit in Superior Court.
As our attorney wrote, regardless of what happens with our appeal neither Pittsboro Matters nor any other citizen with legal standing would be barred from challenging other decisions – such as approvals of small area plans, development agreements, or amendments/modifications to the Master Plan.
We will continue to stay on top of this development throughout every step of the process for reviewing Chatham Park plans.
- Penley said “when the music stops let us not forget that when the COURT asked for them to provide evidence of its 200 members they shot an air ball when the judge acknowledged the fact that they had no members in his Order.” This is simply incorrect. The Court never asked us to provide evidence, nor were we given an opportunity to do so. And the Court never made any finding regarding the number of members. He, in fact, said, “This determination need not be made at this time.
To summarize, we find it strange that a non-lawyer, who did not attend the court hearing on this matter, has again taken on the duty of making false and misleading attacks about our lawsuit on behalf of former Mayor Voller and CPI. It would seem CPI’s attorney would be the appropriate party on behalf of their clients.