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TIMELINE: Hidden Valley Farm

The landowner and Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy are headed for court in a dispute over a horse ring and roads on protected farmland. The landowner and Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy are headed for court in a dispute over a horse ring and roads on protected farmland.

Hidden Valley Farm Timeline

 

• Dec. 12, 2003: Peter M. Hess and Barbara Hess enter into a conservation easement for 39 acres of the 60.57-acre Hidden Valley property.
• Nov. 24, 2010: California businessman Hugh R. Cassar and his wife, Keets Lynn Cassar, buy the property for $3 million. (Current tax value is $3.75 million — $411,300 in land and $2.98 million worth of buildings.)
• July 1, 2013: Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy's stewardship director, Sarah Fraser, makes an annual monitoring visit and observes the cut bank, leveled area and two gravel roads on the property. Hugh Cassar tells CMLC that he plans to build a horse arena on the property.
• July 2, 2013: CMLC notifies Cassar of violations of the easement and tells him the easement prohibits the construction of a horse arena.
• July 3, 2013: CMLC and Cassar or his agent discuss the alleged violations "in an effort to resolve the issues pertaining to restoration of the property." The parties agree that the landowner will make no further change to the property without CMLC's approval, CMLC lawsuit says.
• Sept. 30: CMLC official observes that the landowner has resumed work in the riding ring area, including installation of fence posts that "will prevent restoration of the property to its baseline condition as required by the easement."
• Oct. 1: Henderson County Superior Court Judge James T. Davis grants a motion filed by CMLC attorney Sharon Alexander for a temporary restraining order to stop the work on the riding ring.
• Dec. 3: Cassar attorney Craig Justus files a motion to dismiss the CMLC's complaint and a counterclaim asking the court to nullify the easement "because of the vagueness" of the easement's provisions.
• Feb. 10: A Henderson County Superior Court judge enters a preliminary injunction, which sustains prohibition of work until trial.
• June 30: Judge postpones trial in the case until July 28.
• July 3: Hidden Valley Farm riding school owner Kathryn Gladwell and supporters appear before the Hendersonville City Council to speak about the dispute.

Sources: Henderson County court records, Henderson County tax assessor records, interviews with parties involved.