by Rick Henderson
Editor-in-Chief, Carolina Journal
The Council of State on Tuesday agreed to pay $7 million to purchase more than 200 acres of Onslow County waterfront property from members of the Hurst family, expanding the Hammocks Beach State Park and ending a nearly decade-long battle between the owners of the property and at least two state agencies.
Carolina Journal first reported on the controversy in January 2011, after the owners of the property, John Hurst (pictured) and his sister Harriet Hurst Turner, argued in Wake County Superior Court that the state was trying to seize the property without compensation.
After losing their initial challenge in Superior Court, the Hursts went to the N.C. Court of Appeals, which in November 2012 ruled that the property belongs to the Hursts. Attorney General Roy Cooper backed the state in an appeal to the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the appeal.
The state wanted to use the land to expand the adjacent Hammocks Beach State Park, but the Hursts — whose grandparents were listed as potential beneficiaries if the property was not properly maintained — argued that they were the rightful owners, in part because the State Board of Education had rejected several opportunities to acquire the property and expressed no interest in doing so.
See this story from CJ for the details.