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1. Counties; Taxation_special assessment_inlet relocation_public purpose
A county's special assessment imposed upon landowners to pay for the relocation of an inlet was for a public purpose and thus did not violate the power of taxation clause set forth in N.C. Const. art. V, § 2, cl. 1 where the inlet was a navigable body of water subject to the public trust doctrine; our constitution, the public trus t doctrine, and the State's public policy and legislation have long recognized the key role of the State and its political subdivision, including counties, in preserving beaches, ensuring the navigability and quality of waters, and taking proactive steps to protect property from hurricanes and other storms; and the public advantages of the relocation project, including increased navigability for vessels passing through the inlet, increased sand beaches for public recreation, better flushing of the tidal creeks, and increased ability of the coastline to survive the ravages of the annual hurricane season, are directly aimed at furthering the general welfare of the citizens of the county.
2. Counties_special assessment_landowner appeal
A landowner whose property was subject to a county's special assessment could properly challenge on appeal to the superior court whether the special assessment was authorized by statute, whether the method chosen was one permitted by the statute and, if so, whether the board of commissioners improperly abrogated its responsibilities under N.C.G.S. § 153A-186(d) in selecting that method.
3. Counties_special assessment_beach renourishment_statutory authority
A county's special assessment for an inlet relocation project was authorized by N.C.G.S. § 153A-185 where benefits of the project included hurricane protection, improvement of the watershed, and stopping erosion of the beaches in the county. Furthermore, beach renourishment was a proper method of countering beach erosion, one of the purposes permitted by the statute.
4. Counties_special assessment_inlet relocation_methods of assessment
A county board of commissioners complied with N.C.G.S. § 153A-186 in using different methods of assessment or a combination of methods for different geographical areas related to an inlet relocation project. To the extent that a benefitted landowner is contending that the board improperly designated benefit zones, erred in determining the benefit of the project to certain areas, and should have employed different methods within the zones, the board's decisions as to those issues are final and not subject to further review or challenge.
5. Counties_special assessment_no improper delegation of statutory responsibilities
A county board of commissioners did not improperly delegate to private homeowners associations its responsibilities under N.C.G.S. § 153A-186(d) for the determination of the special assessment method for an inlet relocation project where the board held a public hearing prior to the adoption of the final assessment resolution; the board held three other meetings at which the assessment was discussed by the board, its attorneys, and outside attorneys; and the special assessment method was discussed in meetings between county representatives and attorneys forthe homeowners associations. While the board may not simply rubber stamp a private party's suggestions regarding a special assessment, the board may request input from outside parties, including the assessed landowners, as to which of the assessment methods provided by the statute the board should employ.
6. Appeal and Error_preservation of issues_failure to cite authority
Since plaintiff has cited no authority supporting his claims that a county's special assessment for an inlet relocation project violated his constitutional rights of equal protection, due process, and free speech, he has not properly presented those issues for appellate review.
Johnson and Johnson, P.A., by Rebecca J. Davidson for
Marshall, Williams & Gorham, L.L.P., by William Robert Cherry, Jr., for defendant-appellee.
This appeal arises out of plaintiff Raymond Clifton Parker's objection to a special assessment imposed by defendant New Hanover County to pay for the relocation of Mason Inlet. Plaintiff appeals from an order granting the County's motion for summary judgment and denying his motion for partial summary judgment. In challenging the assessment, plaintiff contends (1) that the inlet project violated article V, § 2, clause 1 of the North Carolina Constitution because it did not have a public purpose; and (2) that the County violated N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 153A-185 and 153A_186 (2003) in making the assessment. Because the record establishes that the public benefit from the relocation of Mason Inlet predominates over any private benefit and that the County properly fulfilled itsresponsibilities under N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 153A-185 and 153A-186, we affirm.
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 113A-102(a) (2003). Further, our General
Assembly has specifically stated: "It is declared to be a
necessary governmental responsibility to properly manage and
protect North Carolina's beaches from erosion . . . ." 2000 N.C.
Sess. Laws ch. 67, § 13.9(a)(17).
(See footnote 2)
With respect to the role of counties, the General Assembly has specifically provided: "A county may appropriate revenues not otherwise limited as to use by law to finance the acquisition, construction, reconstruction, extension, maintenance, improvement, or enlargement of groins, jetties, dikes, moles, walls, sand dunes,vegetation, or other types of works or improvements that are designed for controlling beach erosion, for protection from hurricane floods, or for preserving or restoring facilities and natural features that afford protection to the beaches and other land areas of the county and to the life and property of the county." N.C. Gen. Stat. § 153A-438 (2003) (emphasis added). A county is also authorized to make special assessments against benefitted property for such projects. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 153A-185.
Thus, our constitution, the public trust doctrine, and the State's public policy and legislation have long recognized the key role of the State and its political subdivisions, including counties, in preserving beaches, in ensuring the navigability and quality of waters, and in taking proactive steps to protect property from hurricanes and other storms. We hold that the activity of relocation of an inlet for such purposes meets the first prong of Madison Cablevision. The importance of governmental involvement in activities designed to meet these concerns has been brought home particularly keenly by recent hurricanes and their devastating impact along the Gulf Coast of the United States.
The second prong of Madison Cablevision may be met "so long as [activities] primarily benefit the public and not a private party." Maready, 342 N.C. at 724, 467 S.E.2d at 625. It is not, however, "necessary that a particular use benefit every citizen in the community to be labeled a public purpose." Madison Cablevision, 325 N.C. at 646, 386 S.E.2d at 207. Moreover, an activity "does not lose its public purpose merely because it involves a privateactor. Generally, if an act will promote the welfare of a state or a local government and its citizens, it is for a public purpose." Maready, 342 N.C. at 724, 467 S.E.2d at 625. The Maready Court held that a public purpose exists if "[t]he public advantages are not indirect, remote, or incidental; rather, they are directly aimed at furthering the general economic welfare of the people of the communities affected." Id. at 725, 467 S.E.2d at 625.
Plaintiff argues that the public benefit was incidental to the private benefit achieved by relocation of the inlet. We disagree. The Board's resolutions supporting the project and providing for an assessment identified the project as "an inlet management plan" and "beach erosion control project" designed to protect and preserve County sand resources and beaches, which "serve as an important recreational asset and provide storm protection of the adjoining towns." The resolutions also point to the project's goals of (1) stopping the decrease of oceanfront land within the County (resulting from the inlet's migration south), (2) maximizing property values and the County's tax base, and (3) unblocking Mason Creek and most of the other tidal creeks in the area, the blockage of which had been "adversely affecting overall water circulation, covering wetland habitat and living biological resources, [and] interfering with navigation and recreational use of the estuary." According to Board minutes it is expected that the relocated inlet, with ongoing maintenance, will continuously facilitate coastal marsh flushing and recreational navigation. In addition, the record identifies more specifically that a large public beach, county access, and a parking area had been lost at the north end of Wrightsville Beach because of the inlet's migration. By moving the inlet back to its prior location, that public beach area could be restored. Further, without relocation, the County could anticipate additional large scale loss of public beaches.
Although plaintiff points to other benefits from the relocation project that he contends are private, such as the protection of Shell Island Resort from destruction and the enhancement of beaches on Figure Eight Island, the record contains information suggesting that even those effects will benefit the public to a degree. According to Board minutes, with the collapse of Shell Island Resort, the County would be confronted with the cost of cleaning the resulting debris from public beaches. In addition, the minutes indicate that healthy beaches on Figure Eight Island, a barrier island, help provide storm protection to other parts of the County.
In any event, even if those benefits were purely private, the public advantages from the relocation project _ including increased navigability for vessels passing through the inlet between the Intracoastal Waterway and the ocean, increased sand beaches for public recreation and fishing purposes, better flushing of the tidal creeks, and increased ability of the coastline to survive the ravages of the annual hurricane season _ "are not indirect, remote, or incidental." Id. Rather, they are directly aimed at furtheringthe general welfare of the citizens of New Hanover County. Accordingly, because we are satisfied that both prongs of Maready are met, we hold that the County's special assessment did not violate the public purpose requirement of N.C. Const. art. V., § 2, cl. 1.
II. Compliance with N.C. Gen. Stat. § 153A_185 and N.C. Gen. Stat. § 153A-186
Plaintiff next argues that the Board's imposition of the special assessment did not comply with N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 153A_185 and 153A-186. Specifically, plaintiff argues that N.C. Gen. Stat. § 153A-185 does not authorize a special assessment for a project such as the inlet relocation. With respect to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 153A-186, plaintiff contends that the County (1) improperly delegated determination of the method for the assessment to private parties and (2) used an improper method of assessment. The County argues in response that plaintiff is precluded from asserting these arguments by N.C. Gen. Stat. § 153A-186(d). We address each argument separately.
A. Plaintiff's Ability to Challenge the Assessment
 Article 9 of Chapter 153A of the General Statutes sets out North Carolina's statutory scheme regarding special assessments by counties. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 153A_197 (2003), a part of Article 9, provides for appeal of an assessment:
If the owner of, or any person having an interest in, a lot, parcel, or tract of land against which an assessment is made is dissatisfied with the amount of the assessment, he may, within 10 days after the day the assessment roll is confirmed, file a notice of appeal to the appropriate divisionof the General Court of Justice. He shall then have 20 days after the day the roll is confirmed to serve on the board of commissioners or the clerk a statement of facts upon which the appeal is based. The appeal shall be tried like other actions at law.
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 153A-186, which sets out the different methods by which a board of commissioners may calculate special assessments provides, however: "The board's decision as to the method of assessment is final and not subject to further review or challenge." N.C. Gen. Stat. § 153A-186(d).
Reading §§ 153A_186(d) and 153A_197 together, the plain language of each statute suggests that while a landowner may appeal a special assessment, he may not challenge the board of commissioners' choice of which method or methods provided for in the statute should be used in calculating the assessment. Nothing, however, in N.C. Gen. Stat. § 153A-186(d) precludes a property owner from arguing that the special assessment was for a purpose not authorized by statute, that the board of commissioners improperly abrogated its responsibilities under § 153A_186(d) in choosing a method of calculation, or that the method chosen was not one permitted by the statute.
This view of § 153A-186(d) is consistent with In re Dunn, 73 N.C. App. 243, 326 S.E.2d 309, disc. review denied, 313 N.C. 602, 332, S.E.2d 180 (1985), in which this Court construed the identically worded statute applying to cities. The Dunn Court held "that the decisions of the city council as to the method of assessment and the total cost of an improvement are final andconclusive and not subject to further review or challenge." Id. at 247, 326 S.E.2d at 312. On appeal to a superior court and this Court, "the owner of assessed property has no right to be heard there on the question of whether the lands are benefitted or not, but only on the validity of the assessment, its proper apportionment and other questions of law." Id. (internal citations omitted).
Based on the plain language of N.C. Gen. Stat. § 153A-186(d) and on Dunn, we hold that plaintiff may properly challenge on appeal whether the special assessment was authorized by statute, whether the method chosen was one permitted by the statute, and, if so, whether the board of commissioners improperly abrogated its responsibilities under § 153A_186(d) in selecting that method. Questions such as these deal solely with the validity of the assessment and whether the County followed proper procedure in adopting it. See Dunn, 73 N.C. App. at 245, 326 S.E.2d at 311 (in holding that the plaintiff could not appeal the issues he had raised, noting that the plaintiff "does not contend that the City failed to follow proper procedure in making the assessment").
B. Compliance with N.C. Gen. Stat. § 153A-185
 N.C. Gen. Stat. § 153A-185 grants counties authority to make special assessments against benefitted properties for all or part of the costs of:
(3) Acquiring, constructing, reconstructing, extending, renovating, enlarging, maintaining, operating, or otherwise building or improving
a. Beach erosion control or flood and hurricane protection works; and
b. Watershed improvement projects, drainage projects and water resources development projects (as those projects are defined in G.S. 153A-301).
Plaintiff argues that the County was not authorized to impose a special assessment for the inlet relocation project because it was not a "beach erosion control" project.
We first note that the record indicates that the benefits of the project included hurricane protection and improvement of the watershed. Further, it is undisputed that moving the inlet was intended to stop the erosion of the beaches in the City of Wrightsville Beach. These purposes for the project all fall within the permissible bases for a special assessment.
Plaintiff, however, contends that the beach renourishment on Figure Eight does not constitute one of the purposes permitted by the statute. To the contrary, it is well-established that beach renourishment is one of the methods of countering beach erosion. As the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources has stated in its general policy guidelines for the coastal area:
(a) Pursuant to Section 5, Article 14 of the North Carolina Constitution, proposals for shoreline erosion response projects shall avoid losses to North Carolina's natural heritage. . . .
(b) Erosion response measures designed
to minimize the loss of private and public
resources to erosion should be economically,
socially, and environmentally justified. . . .
(c) The replenishment of sand on ocean beaches can provide storm protection and a viable alternative to allowing the ocean shoreline to migrate landward threatening to degrade public beaches and cause the loss of public facilities and private property. Experience in North Carolina and other states has shown that beach restoration projects can present a feasible alternative to loss or massive relocation of oceanfront development. In light of this experience, beach restoration and sand nourishment and disposal projects may be allowed when:
(1) Erosion threatens to degrade
public beaches and to damage public and
(2) Beach restoration,
renourishment or sand disposal projects are
determined to be socially and economically
feasible and cause no significant adverse
(3) The project is determined to be
consistent with state policies for shoreline
erosion response and state use standards for
Ocean and Hazard and Public Trust Waters Areas
of Environmental Concern and the relevant
rules and guidelines of state and federal
15A N.C. Admin. Code 7M.0202 (2005). See also 33 C.F.R. § 263.26
(providing with respect to small beach erosion control projects
that "periodic nourishment may be recommended"); Barbara Affeldt,
Beach Erosion and Hurricane Protection in the Second Circuit: The
Statute of Limitations as a Government Nemesis, 2 N.Y. City L. Rev.
29, 30 n.4 (1998) ("Beachfill or nourishment is the process by
which beach-compatible sand is dredged from the bed of a waterbody
and pumped onto the beach to provide hurricane protection and beach
erosion-control."). In short, the record establishes that the Mason Inlet project
was one for which a special assessment is authorized. Plaintiff's
contention that the County violated N.C. Gen. Stat. § 153A-185 is
C. Compliance with N.C. Gen. Stat. § 153A-186
 Plaintiff next contends that the assessment method adopted by the Board was not one permitted by N.C. Gen. Stat. § 153A-186 in that the Board used different methods of assessment for different geographical areas related to the project. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 153A- 186(b) provides:
(b) For beach erosion control or flood and hurricane protection works, watershed improvement projects, drainage projects and water resources development projects, assessments may be made on the basis of:
(1) The frontage abutting on the
project, at an equal rate per foot
of frontage; or
(2) The frontage abutting on a beach or shoreline or watercourse protected or benefited by the project, at an equal rate per foot of frontage;
(3) The area of land benefited by the project, at an equal rate per unit of area; or
(4) The valuation of land benefited by the project, being the value of the land without improvements as shown on the tax records of the county, at an equal rate per dollar of valuation; or
(5) A combination of two or more of these bases.
(Emphasis added.) The statute further provides that when the basis selected for assessment is either area or valuation, the Board isrequired for assessments under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 153A-185(3) to "provide for the laying out of one or more benefit zones according . . . to the distance from the shoreline or watercourse, the distance from the project, the elevation of the land, or other relevant factors. If more than one benefit zone is established, the board shall establish differing rates of assessment to apply uniformly throughout each benefit zone." N.C. Gen. Stat. § 153A- 186(c) (emphases added).
Thus, contrary to plaintiff's contentions, the statute specifically anticipates that a project may require different methods for different geographical areas involved in the project and that a combination of methods may be used. To the extent that plaintiff is contending that the Board improperly designated benefit zones, erred in determining the benefit of the project to certain areas, and should have employed different methods within the zones, the Board's decision as to those issues "is final and not subject to further review or challenge." N.C. Gen. Stat. § 153A-186(d). See also Dunn, 73 N.C. App. at 247, 326 S.E.2d at 312 (holding that city council's decisions regarding whether the street improvements abutted the plaintiff's property and whether they benefitted his property were questions with respect to which the city council's determination was final and conclusive). (See footnote 3)  Plaintiff also contends that the Board in this case improperly delegated its responsibilities under § 153A-186(d) for the determination of the assessment method to FEBHA and/or MIPG. As a basis for this contention, plaintiff points to two remarks _ one by the County Attorney and the other by the Chair of the Board _ at a single board meeting regarding the preliminary assessment resolution. The record, however, also evidences a public hearing before the Board prior to adoption of the final assessment resolution with numerous individuals speaking in favor of and against the resolution (including plaintiff); three other board meetings at which the assessment for the inlet relocation was discussed by the Board, its attorneys, and outside attorneys; and other meetings between county representatives and attorneys for MIPG and FEBHA at which the details of the special assessment method were discussed. We hold that the record, taken in full, indicates that the Board did, in fact, perform its responsibility under § 153A-186(d) to "endeavor to establish an assessment method from among the bases set out in this section." While the Board may not simply "rubber stamp" a private party's suggestions regarding a special assessment, the Board may request input from outside parties, including the assessed landowners themselves, as to which of the assessment methods the Board should employ. Indeed, plaintiff took advantage of this opportunity by speaking against the proposed assessment. For these reasons, we conclude that the Board's special assessment did not violate N.C. Gen. Stat. § 153A-186(d). Further, the record does not indicate that the Board improperly delegated its statutory responsibilities regarding that assessment.
III. Due Process and Equal Protection Claims
 Plaintiff also contends that issues of fact remain as to whether the imposition of the special assessment violates his equal protection, due process, and free speech rights under the federal and state constitutions. Since the plaintiff has cited no authority supporting his claim that his constitutional rights were violated, he has not properly presented these issues for appellate review. N.C.R. App. P. 28(b)(6) (providing that "[a]ssignments of error . . . in support of which no reason or argument is stated or authority cited, will be taken as abandoned").
With respect to equal protection, plaintiff does cite generally Edward Valves, Inc. v. Wake County, 343 N.C. 426, 471 S.E.2d 342 (1996), cert. denied, 519 U.S. 1112, 136 L. Ed. 2d 839, 117 S. Ct. 952 (1997). In that case, however, the North Carolina Supreme Court expressly declined to address the question whether the County tax at issue violated equal protection and held only that the taxpayer was not limited to his state law statutory remedy, but could also sue under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Court never addressed the merits of the plaintiff's claims. Plaintiff does not reference or discuss the underlying Court of Appeals opinion, Edward Valves, Inc. v. Wake County, 117 N.C. App. 484, 451 S.E.2d 641 (1995), aff'd as modified in part and disc. reviewimprovidently allowed in part, 343 N.C. 426, 471 S.E.2d 342 (1996), which did address the merits of the equal protection claim. That opinion, however, involved a county taxing a class of property in some situations and not at all in other situations. Id. at 491, 451 S.E.2d at 646. The opinion provides no insight regarding the proper analysis when a plaintiff, as in this case, argues that a different methodology should have been used in calculating his tax. In the absence of citation of any authority on this point by either party, we decline to address the equal protection issue.
With respect to due process and free speech, plaintiff argues only that the notice regarding the public hearing pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 153A-194 (2003) mailed to affected property owners stated that the property owner "will be assessed" in the amount set forth in the proposed preliminary assessment roll, that the Board "shall confirm" the amount after the public hearing, and that "[t]he purpose of the hearing is not to receive comments regarding the basis of the assessments, but rather to consider the clerical and mathematical accuracy of individual assessments." Plaintiff argues that the notice suggested that the result of the hearing was predetermined, denying him notice and an opportunity to be heard and chilling his right to free speech. Plaintiff has again cited no authority supporting his contentions and we deem them abandoned.
We note, in addition, however, that the Board had previously conducted a public hearing prior to adopting the final assessment resolution setting forth the methodology for the assessment. At that hearing, interested parties, including plaintiff, were allowedto voice their objections to the assessment methodology. Further, the notice to which plaintiff objects notified the property owners that they would be heard regarding the clerical and mathematical accuracy of individual assessments. Plaintiff had multiple opportunities to voice his objections to the propriety of the assessment and its methodology. Plaintiff has set forth no reason why the Board was constitutionally obligated to give him another opportunity.
Judges TIMMONS-GOODSON and CALABRIA concur.
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