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By Kate Elizabeth Queram

WILMINGTON, NC (StarNewsOnline.com) — A Kure Beach couple remains unable to move into their new home after a New Hanover County Superior Court judge upheld the town’s decision to deny an occupancy permit for the property because its cantilevered fireplace extends 6 inches farther than zoning laws allow.

“Basically, you’re going to have to change it or take it down,” Judge Paul L. Jones said during a hearing Monday afternoon. “It’s an unfortunate result.”

The 20-minute hearing was the latest development in a yearlong battle between Ann and Richard Lawing, the home’s owners, and John Batson, building inspector for Kure Beach. According to the Lawings, Batson issued a building permit based on the original plans, which showed the fireplace, but became difficult to work with after the couple asked the town to reimburse them for the cost of a window that Batson broke during an inspection.

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Comment on this Story

  • Lilly

    First off Mr. John Batson approved the drawings so he is to blame for this issue. Second of all the contractor who built the home should know the zoning laws. I belive since both parties (Inspector & Contractors) are responsible for the oversight they should be held responsible for the cost & fixing the issue.

    I like how the comments on the Star News indicates in the meeting minutes that The building inspector cannot be held culpable for everything that accidentally he may overlook on his busy schedule.”ments on the Star News indicates in the meeting mintues that the. That is why meetings are held to go over the progress of the project go over any issues etc.

    This was a major oversight by the Inspector Batson & the builder himself. Batson signed off on the drawings and he should be responsible for the issue. Batson & the contractor could even split the cost of the issue since they both over saw the issue.

    Come on Batson step up to the plate take responsibility for your actions!

    let theis couple move in and enjoy their home!

  • Derf

    The above comments are extremely appropriate. The home owner did not intentionally do anything to cause this problem . The building inspector did not do the correct original inspection and the builder of all people should have known this was not a correct installation .There is no way the owner should have to pay for the incompetence of an inspector or professional builder .

  • Guestomfg

    “Richard Lawing, a building contractor who oversaw the home’s construction”…….. Who can he blame? Himself as the contractor? Of course not…. Either way these people aint gettin any younger, just fix the damn fireplace and DROP IT.

  • NotSure

    Can someone explain why it would matter about it being 6 inches bigger. What safety issue does it cause? The engineer designed the plans the City approved it and the builder builded it. I would think the building inspect approving the plans would make it the City insurance problem.

  • Jasper Fant

    Sue the town of Kure Beach? That is hilarious. Why not sue the county, the state and the federal government, respectively if they don’t win in those courts, heck, sue Queen Elizabeth since the KB sandbar was once part of a crown colony. Methinks they’re not in a hurry to move in or are just waiting for a reality show offer.

  • guesty4U

    Does anyone else find it kind of funny they are fighting over a fireplace…at the beach? I only use mine for nostalgia, not something we necessarily need around here.

    That’s quite an expensive pee pee contest.

  • Southern Born

    “we may have to contact a lawyer and sue the Town” I’m sure this is just one of many threat’s by these rule breakers.

    Here is an idea get a lawyer and sue your contractor. Are you one of them Bob villa impersonators acted as there own contractors, then built the house in the setbacks. Big time rookie mistake and now you want the local official and town to pay for your mistake.

    Oh by the way geniuses’ you will be suing yourself since you own property there.

    Town Employees do not write the rules, and if the home is in violation of local codes a CO cannot be issued and if a CO hasn’t been issued then it would appear that the local official caught the mistake, before it became a violation.

    I’m betting they were their own contractors, and expected the local official to manage their job for them, Tear it down and fix it rich folk, I’m not feeling sorry for ya.

  • Lilly

    Just because the home owner over saw the project means nothing. He over saw the cosmetic’s most likely . That is why in construction you have inspectors, and a home builder. They are the ones who know the rules, regulations, zoning, & what has to be up to date with coding regulations.

    That are paid the big bucks, hired by the town, county and or state to make sure issues like this don’t happen. This issue should have been caught from the beginning the inspector should have requested a change order prior to approving the drawings before construction, once reconfigured to meet standards than the drawings could have been approved if he had made one simple change in the beginning non of this would be happening right now. The homeowners could be moved in and enjoying their beautiful home but not thanks to the incompetency of a building inspector they are now fighting a battle.

    We all have busy schedules but if we are truly dedicated to our jobs and care about others homes and or office’s you don’t approve drawings unless they are correct.

    I bet if it was a friend or family member of Mr. Batson it would be a different outcome to the story.

  • Local observer

    Zoning laws are the law, period. If lawing over saw the construction
    and he is a retired contractor, he is partly to blame. From what I
    understand, changes were made to the plans after the initial plans were submitted and approved. Lawing needs to tread lightly on this and stop trying to get the media to fight his battle.

  • Guest-o-matic

    John Batson is a 24 kt. p***k and the ONLY inspector at KB!
    Someone needs to survey KB to find all of the other code violations that have been allowed and have them remedied as well. This whole fiasco is fully uncalled for and is a huge bruise on the town of Kure Beach!

    Batson issued the permit after reviewing the plans and turned on them because of his own stupidity. The Island Gazette has done a wonderful job of showing the behavior that Batson has displayed to not only these people, but extreme arrogance to the mayor when he tried to help with resolution.

    Lawings, just cut the freekin’ fireplace off, patch the wall, sell the SOB and exit Kure Beach as fast as you can. Just be done with it and get away from that sorry township and it’s cronies! I hope a lot of people remember this conundrum and proceed to follow you! There is simply no excuse for this sort of behavior!

  • Guest Reply Redux

    If you are going to build a fire place at the beach just to get on the news.
    Another Award Winning Story :-O
    And there’s starving kids in China!

  • Jasper Fant

    I suggest that at some point the town of Kure Beach and the county should consider filing a counter-suit. The amount of money and resources having to be used is completely unacceptable.

  • Guest Reply Redux

    When all of this fussin’ is said and done…I hope there isn’t a firewood shortage there :-(


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