REGENCY LAKE OWNERS' ASSOCIATION, INC., and CHARLES HUFFMAN, Plaintiffs,
REGENCY LAKE, LLC, COURTLAND PROPERTIES, INC., and JOSEPH MACMINN, Defendants.
in the Court of Appeals 6 March 2018.
by plaintiffs from order entered 31 March 2017 by Judge
Jeffrey K. Carpenter in Iredell County Superior Court No. 16
Childers, Donaldson & Webb, PLLC, by Kevin C. Donaldson
and C. Marshall Horsman, for plaintiff-appellees.
Ashburn Greene & Chapman, PA, by Kathleen L. Vogel and
Douglas G. Eisele, for defendant-appellants.
1969 and October 1970, Rolling Homes, Inc. ("Rolling
Homes") acquired two adjacent tracts of land situated in
Davidson Township, Iredell County. The deeds are recorded in
book 485, page 64, and book 494, page 192, respectively, in
the Iredell County Registry. Rolling Homes developed the
Regency Lake Village subdivision by dividing the two combined
tracts into streets, lots, a playground and a lake access
area (the "Access Area"). The subdivision plat for
Regency Lake Village (the "Plat") was recorded in
the Iredell County Registry at plat book 10, pages 59 and
Regency Lake Village Access Area includes a boat ramp for
owners to access Lake Norman. The Access Area is bounded on
the east by a lot, on the south by Lake Norman, on the west
by a dam impounding a private lake, and on the north by a
first deed conveying a lot in Regency Lake Village was
granted to Cecil B. Tucker and wife, Francis W. Tucker, in
October 1970, after the Plat was recorded. The deed conveyed
to the Tuckers makes reference to the Plat. After October
1970 and until early 1973, Rolling Homes conveyed several
other lots in Regency Lake Village to numerous individuals.
All of these deeds reference the Plat.
Storage Company acquired all of the remaining property in
Regency Lake Village, which had not been previously conveyed
by Rolling Homes, by a substitute trustee's deed in 1973.
The deed to Auto Storage Company is recorded in book 536,
page 499, of the Iredell County Registry. This deed also
references the Plat.
Regency Lake, LLC, Courtland Properties, Inc., and Joseph P.
MacMinn (collectively, "Appellees") obtained title
to the Access Area from Auto Storage Company by a quitclaim
deed recorded in April 2001 in book 1258, page 1701 of the
Iredell County Registry.
October 2015, Defendants recorded a plat, at plat book 64,
page 19 of the Iredell County Registry, subdividing the
Access Area into two separate lots with the intention that
they would develop one lot, designated as Lot 1, for
residential purposes, and reduce the size of the originally
platted Access Area, designated as Lot 1A.
Charles Huffman ("Huffman") is an owner of property
located within Regency Lake Village and a member of Plaintiff
Regency Lake Owners' Association (collectively,
"Appellants"). On 2 February 2016, Appellants filed
a verified complaint against Defendants seeking: (1) a
declaratory judgment declaring Appellants and other
purchasers and owners of lots described in the October 1970
plat have a private easement to the Access Area; (2) a motion
for preliminary injunction to enjoin Defendants from altering
the Access Area or preventing Appellants from entering and
using the Access Area; and, (3) in the alternative, a
declaration that there exists an easement to the Access Area
for purchasers and owners of lots in Regency Lake Village.
filed their answer to Appellants' complaint on 15 April
2016. The trial court entered a preliminary injunction on 31
May 2016, which ordered that Defendants "shall not
perform any acts on the Access Area which would alter its
current condition and shall not prevent the Plaintiffs from
entering and using the Access Area pending further orders of
matter was heard on 20 March 2017. The parties waived the
right to a jury trial and chose to proceed with a bench
trial. Following the presentation of evidence and testimony
of witnesses, but before a verdict was rendered, the trial
court ex mero motu entered an order on 31 March
2017, which concluded that all necessary parties were not
joined in the action, that all necessary parties should be
joined, and that the matter should be re-heard after all of
the necessary parties are joined. The trial court ordered
that all "the remaining owners of property in Regency
Lake Village Subdivision shall be joined as ...