RUTHERFORDTON A judge dismissed for now a condemnation proceeding to run a power line through a Rutherford County wilderness area.
The ruling on Tuesday by Superior Court Judge Hugh Lewis means Rutherford Electric Membership Corp. will have to refile petitions to condemn a 100-foot corridor through the Box Creek Wilderness and a second tract to its north.
Box Creek owner Tim Sweeney, a Cary video game developer, has fought the condemnation. The case was set for trial this week.
Lewis, instead, approved Sweeneys motion to dismiss because Box Creek lies in two counties. Rutherford Countys court clerk had no authority to assign a panel to assess the fair market value of the corridor in both counties, the judge ruled.
Lewis refused a motion by Rutherford Electrics attorneys to proceed with the trial and deal with the lands value later. The trial would focus on whether the cooperative acted arbitrarily and capriciously in condemning the land.
Tuesdays ruling means Rutherford likely will have to start at the beginning, in Lewis words, and refile new condemnation proceedings against Sweeney in Rutherford and McDowell counties.
For his part, Sweeney said Tuesday hes willing to do what it takes to exhaust all legal remedies to protect his land. The wilderness harbors some of North Carolinas rarest plant communities.
Henderson: 704-358-5051; Twitter: @bhender
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