Superior Court Judge David Lee issued a preliminary injunction Aug. 25 that prevents the town of Weddington from selling the Hemby Road fire station.
The injunction states it will be in effect “pending further order of the Court or final determination of this action.”
The station, built by PVFD in 1985 and occupied by the department until July 29, is a key part of a lawsuit Providence Volunteer Fire Department has filed against the town. The town purchased the station from PVFD in 2014 for $923,000 in renovations and an agreement to lease it to PVFD for $1 a year. At the time, Providence Volunteer Fire Department was one year into a 10-year fire service agreement with the town.
In April, the Weddington town council voted to cancel its fire-service contract with PVFD, effective July 29. The volunteer fire department, which has served the Weddington area since 1954, argued that the cancellation was without cause and the town would have to pay a $750,000 penalty.
Weddington Mayor Bill Deter argued that the department was not financially stable, which he said justified ending the contract.
The town then entered a fire-service contract with Wesley Chapel Volunteer Fire Department, effective July 29, and voted to lease the Hemby Road station to them.
PVFD filed a lawsuit against the town in June for breach of contract, and amended it in July to include claims of “fraud in the inducement” and “unfair and deceptive practices.” Lee’s decision on Aug. 25 allowed the amendment adding the “fraud in the inducement claim,” and denied the town’s motion to dismiss it.
Deter said he was disappointed by the judge’s decision.
“I’ve said before that the town doesn’t want to be in the fire business,” Deter said. “We’d like to sell the fire station.”
Christopher Duggan attorney for PVFD said, “We’re obviously very pleased with the court’s decision, and hopefully will be able to return the station to its rightful owner.”
Duggan said the town will have an opportunity to reply to the amended lawsuit. He said he is not sure when the case will be heard.
Jack Parks, president of the PVFD Board of Directors, said the firefighters are on standby to do whatever the town would have them do.
“The roster is intact … The trucks are being maintained. Everything’s in standby mode,” he said.
Jane Duckwall is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.