It is with great pleasure that I reaffirm what most of you have already learned via the press that the Maury County Chancery Court has granted our temporary restraining order. This order requires that Centerstone vacate the premises of 1000 Rolling Fields Circle within two (2) weeks of the order, on or about August 7, 2008.
The Court founded its opinion upon two areas of law. First, the Court opined that the Centerstone consumers were not “residents” as assumed and defined by law. The Court focused on Centerstone’s own application for grant money, as well as testimony, that the average length of stay for consumers was 5.05 days. The Court described this short stay as being more “transient” by nature and otherwise not consistent with the stated purposes of the statute at issue, i.e., to remove any obstacles for such persons to live in single-family zoned areas. I would add that Centerstone consumers are no more prohibited than any of us in living in Rolling Fields, buying or renting, etc. They just want to do it in the form of a commercial treatment facility, a means in violation of our state and local zoning laws.
The Court also agreed with our point that Centerstone consumers do pose a “substantial likelihood of serious harm,” thus taking them from outside of the subject zoning exceptions.
This order means that Centerstone will not be able to occupy the residence during the litigation, a process that could take several months to over a year. Because it is “temporary,” the court will review at trial whether the injunction should be made permanent. Under normal circumstances, any appeal from an adverse court decision would be made after trial, whenever that occurs. However, in this case, Centerstone could choose to effect an “interlocutory” appeal, one that is allowed even while the litigation is pending. If we oppose this, it is certainly not guaranteed that the Court of Appeals would agree to take the appeal (as such is their discretion). However, any appeal taken at the end of a trial is a matter of right.
If Centerstone does not attempt to appeal at this time, it is my belief that their lawyers will push this matter to a speedy trial. At trial, Centerstone would undoubtedly try to challenge some of the findings of facts as made by the Court at this stage in an effort to better position itself before the Court of Appeals in a post-trial appeal. It is actually possible that Centerstone would be allowed to appeal both now (interlocutorily) and after trial, processes that would take a very long time.
The bottom line is that we are standing in a very good position at this point. Although the fight is far from over in that the Court could, at trial, reverse itself, I am very pleased. I hope you are as well.
Our next step will be determined by Centerstone’s decision regarding an interlocutory appeal. Any such appeal would essentially place on hold the ultimate trial of this cause, although the discovery process would go forward in the meantime. I will keep you updated as to this.
Congratulations thus far to all Rolling Fields residents!