First on 9: NC Court rules against Belhaven, demolition of Pungo Hospital begins

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BELHAVEN, N.C. (WNCT) – On Wednesday, the North Carolina Court of Appeals issued a ruling on complaints filed by the town of Belhaven and the NAACP over the old Pungo Hospital building.

“Pantego Creek is pleased that the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Pantego Creek and Vidant, and against the Town and NAACP, on each and every issue before the Court,” said a spokesperson for Pantego Creek LLC, the current owners of the hospital and the property.

According to the ruling, the court did not find factual evidence to move the town’s allegations forward. The court also determined the 1948 deed for the hospital property didn’t include language that would require the ownership to revert back to the town.

The ruling claimed, “The fundamental flaw with Plaintiffs’ position is that Belhaven did not include any language creating a reversionary interest in the 1948 Deed to the effect that the land would revert to Belhaven in the event that the land ceased being used for the operation of a hospital.”

The court also struck down the town’s argument that they had been declined a fair and impartial trial by previous judges.

WNCT reached out to Belhaven Mayor Adam O’Neal, who said the town’s attorneys are now determining whether to appeal the court’s decisions.

Pantego Creek LLC also voted to move forward with demolishing the old hospital building, which began Monday with the removal of asbestos.

A statement released by Pantego Creek LLC said, “Pungo Medical Center, led by Belhaven Mayor Adam O’ Neal, has had more than two and a half years to find an alternative solution for a new hospital. To date, this effort has not demonstrated that conditions necessary for the now-expired USDA loan commitment can be met, nor have the Mayor or the Medical Center presented a viable plan with a realistic timeline. Since the old Pungo District Hospital closed more than 2 years ago, the aging buildings have deteriorated to the point that the buildings will have to be demolished and completely rebuilt in order for a hospital to open on the property, a circumstance that would make any plan very difficult to successfully implement.”

O’Neal responded, saying, “the community is now moving towards making an offer for the Hospital Facility this Friday. The community is totally against tearing down the hospital if it can be reopened. We believe it can be reopened.”

The town has planned a 6 p.m. protest Wednesday in hopes of saving their hospital.

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