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Opp House says it has provided documents foundation sought

A lawsuit that seeks to determine what’s happening at the Opportunity House is heading to mediation.


A Henderson County Superior Court judge ordered the mediation on Sept. 9 and appointed Asheville mediator Bill Brazil to handle the matter. The mediation is set for Friday, Jake Snider, the attorney for the Opportunity House, said. Last December, the Community Foundation of Henderson County filed a lawsuit in Superior Court asking a judge to rule on whether the Opportunity House is lawfully acting as a tax-exempt charity and to authorize a protective trust in the event the Opp House sells its property, which is thought to be worth up to $1.5 million. The foundation has a stake in the situation because the senior center's charter called for its assets to go to the foundation if it folds.
“To be honest we’re waiting to find out” what the foundation will request, Snider said. “We’ve asked the Community Foundation to tell us what they want and they said they’d tell us on Friday.”
Stephen J. Grabenstein, the foundation’s attorney, did not return a phone call seeking information about the mediation.
While the Opportunity House admitted in answers it filed to the foundation’s lawsuit in August that it had initially withheld documents the foundation requested, Snider said the nonprofit has now met that request.
“We hope that it gets resolved. We’ve had a number of exchanges,” he said. “At this point until the other side of mediation, I wouldn’t want to say anything more. We disclosed a lot of stuff.”
The foundation also has requested numerous documents from Opportunity House officials, including minutes of board meetings, a list of board members, staff salaries and an accounting of revenue and expenses. In its lawsuit, the foundation said that the Opportunity House had failed to produce those documents; in an answer its attorney filed in August, the Opp House said that it “has now provided said information.”
In the answer Snider filed on Aug. 26, the Opp House wrote, “admitted” in answer to the foundation’s assertion that it “intends to sell the real property it owns in Henderson County and reinvest the proceeds.” The Opp House admited, too, that “the real property is being actively marketed and that there are buyers interested in the property.” Snider, on behalf of the Opportunity House, denied the foundation’s claims that questioned its authority to sell the building, its plans for the of proceeds are consistent with its charter and whether it continues to operate as a tax-exempt nonprofit organization.