A lawsuit was filed by The Cassina Group against Vince Graham's Earl's Court LLC with Charleston County Court of Common Pleas on May 29 in connection to parking plans for an inn on Hibben Street in Mount Pleasant's Old Village.
Now, the defendant, Earl's Court, has answered the lawsuit, asserting claims against the plaintiff, The Cassina Group, and added new claims against new parties to the lawsuit: Town of Mount Pleasant, Mayor Will Haynie (in his individual capacity), and Save Shem Creek Corp.
Earl's Court's answer to the recent lawsuit states, “This Third-Party Complaint is the unfortunate, but necessary, consequence of (the) Town's, Haynie's, and SSC's coordinated, unlawful and politically motivated campaign to thwart Earl's Court's constitutionally protected vested rights concerning the development of the four remaining undeveloped parcels in Earl's Court, especially, the proposed 25 room in on the CM-3 Parcel."
The multifaceted lawsuit states actions of the third parties that Earl's Court deems unlawful.
Vince Graham had his attorney, Ross Appel respond on his behalf of the legal matter.
"Having lost on all other attempts to sabotage my client’s approved plans, members of Save Shem Creek, in concert with the mayor and others launched an intimidation crusade intended to scare Cassina Group principals into canceling a valid business agreement. As outlined in our court filing, we take this intrusion into private matters seriously. These shameful actions are yet another example of Save Shem Creek’s unlawful attempts to undermine property rights in Mount Pleasant. If unchecked, such bullying tactics will not only harm my client, but threaten the reputation of the entire town," Appel shared.
Appel stated that shared parking arrangements are simply smart planning that have and will continue to be encouraged by the town.
"The parking lease and covenant at the center of this litigation was prepared with the help of The Cassina Group last fall. It was done at the insistence of town staff, with their full cooperation and approval. That lease and covenant remain valid. Nevertheless, we sympathize with Cassina, a group of business professionals who have been integral to the development of Earl’s Court these past six years. They have been subjected to a bullying smear campaign from the same vocal minority that have opposed Earl’s Court from day one," he added. "The historical facts are undisputable. With I’On and other projects, my client has a track record of quality development. His proposed 25-room boutique inn, cafe, and parking plan has been approved by the town’s staff and Design Review Board. It will be located on land that has been zoned for commercial use, including a hotel and restaurant, since the town first adopted zoning in 1949. These uses were reaffirmed in 1979 when town council, which then included Jimmy Bagwell, approved the current zoning for the property. Commercial use was approved yet again, under the town’s award-winning Urban Corridor Overlay District."
Appel also said, "Despite the opponents’ fearmongering, Earl’s Court has become a beautiful addition to the neighborhood. Once complete, we are confident our proposed inn on Hibben Street, which is inspired by the Post House Inn and restaurant in the heart of the Old Village, will contribute to that spirit of gracious hospitality lying deep at the heart of Mount Pleasant."
Haynie gave commentary on the lawsuit as an individual being sued, not on behalf of the town.
"These are allegations made by a developer who has demonstrated that anyone deemed to be opposition will not be spared his wrath. I am now receiving the same treatment that private citizens have received from him, on this as well as previous well-publicized matters, so I consider it an honor. I will defend myself vigorously and not be cowered by yet another developer’s brutal tactics," he said.
Haynie shared it appears he will have his own legal representation in the lawsuit and not use the town's attorneys as they will be representing the town in the case. The Town of Mount Pleasant's Administrator Eric DeMoura declined comment on the lawsuit.
"We have not been served yet and have no comment at this time," said Jimmy Bagwell, chairman of Save Shem Creek Corp.
Bagwell said once they are served and have time to review the lawsuit they can make additional comments.
A spokesman for The Cassina Group that wished to remain unidentified said, "The Cassina Group is unable to comment on the lawsuit filed by Earl's Court, LLC and Graham Holdings, LLC on June 28, 2019, because it is not our filing. The position of The Cassina Group remains unchanged, our lease for eight nighttime restaurant parking spots was terminated with the developer of The Earl's Court Inn & Restaurant on March 2, 2019, and a request for a declaratory judgment was filed May 29, 2019 to affirm the lease is void."
This is a developing story. For more updates as this proceeds, please check back on moultrienews.com.