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Opposition heard for non-residents on Maggie Valley board

Opposition heard for non-residents on Maggie Valley board

A candidate for Maggie Valley alderman who dropped out and resigned her seat on the town’s zoning board when opponents filed a residency challenge is drawing further scrutiny after an investigation by The Smoky Mountain News revealed that she was not a resident of the town during most or all of her service on the zoning board of adjustment. 


On July 31, 2021, Eve Barrett applied to become a member of the town’s zoning board of adjustment, giving her address as 160 Bridle Lane, according to town documents. County records note the address as “Bridle Drive.”

The Bridle Drive address is within town limits; however, Barrett wasn’t registered to vote anywhere in North Carolina at the time, per the Haywood County Board of Elections.

Barrett goes on to affirm in the application that she had been a resident of Maggie Valley since at least 2017, however Barrett and her husband James claimed a homestead exemption for a house in Pinellas County, Florida from 1996 through 2022.

The Florida homestead exemption application requires applicants to affirm  that they are “a permanent resident of Pinellas County, Florida, and that you own and in good faith occupy this residence as your homestead to the exclusion of any other permanent residence in any jurisdiction, state or country.”

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Barrett’s application goes on to state that any person who knowingly gives false information to claim homestead exemption is guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment up to one year, a fine up to $5,000, or both.

Barrett was appointed to the Town of Maggie Valley ZBA as an alternate member on Nov. 18, 2021.

She finally registered to vote on April 19, 2022, but used an address on Grandview Cliff Heights, which is not within town limits.

Per state statute , residency is defined as a place where “that person’s habitation is fixed, and to which, whenever that person is absent, that person has the intention of returning.”

On Feb. 16, 2023, Barrett was appointed as a full member of the Town of Maggie Valley’s ZBA, while still registered to vote at the out-of-town address.

Although Barrett was never called to serve in her capacity as an alternate and therefore cast no votes, she did attend three meetings as a full member — voting in two of them despite telling the Haywood County Board of Elections that she lived on Grandview Cliff Heights, outside town limits.

According to town records, in February, Barrett seconded a variance approval for Maggie Valley Storage Solutions. In March, she seconded another variance and moved for approval of another, for Indian Trace. Barrett attended the April ZBA meeting but did not vote.

On July 7, Barrett changed her registration to the Bridle Drive address, which is within town limits. Coincidentally, July 7 was the first day of the candidate filing period for the upcoming November municipal elections.

Barrett subsequently declared her candidacy for one of two alderman seats up for election, but a month later, a neighbor of Barrett’s on Grandview Cliff Heights told SMN  that he believed Barrett and her husband resided there and not at the Bridle Drive address.

That address was and is listed on a number of short-term vacation rental sites like Airbnb and VRBO. Barrett acknowledged the use of the property as a whole-home vacation rental, but claimed that she resides there between rentals.

On Sept. 8, Maggie Valley resident Jeff Lee filed an election protest, claiming that Barrett’s residency on Bridle Lane was not accurate. Four days later, members of the Haywood County Board of Elections voted unanimously to schedule a preliminary inquiry into Lee’s protest.

Barrett dropped out of the alderman race the next day, on Sept. 13, and Lee withdrew his challenge.

In a Sept. 19 letter to the Town of Maggie Valley, Barrett resigned her seat on the ZBA, but didn’t mention the election protest.

“The Cabin Fairy Realty and Property Management Company is absolutely exploding, and, understandably, I need to focus on what brings me the most joy,” she wrote.

State statues are clear  in saying that residence in a municipality is a qualification for elected officials, but they’re also clear in saying that residence in a municipality is not a qualification for appointment to any city office not filled by an election.

There is a caveat, however. Municipalities can stipulate a residency requirement for appointed boards. The Town of Maggie Valley has done so for its planning board but not for the ZBA.

But that doesn’t mean it sits well with candidates and voters. Allen Alsbrooks, who is running in the same aldermanic race that Barrett dropped out of, said that if he’s elected, he’d like to explore the issue further.

“I don’t agree with non-residents on our appointed boards. They’re not subject to our town rules. They don’t pay taxes. It deprives town residents and taxpayers of the opportunity to serve,” Alsbrooks said. “That would be like somebody from Canada coming over to vote in our election. We still have the town boundaries that I think we need to respect. The old cliché is, ‘They have no skin in the game.’ There’s no impetus for them to want to better the town. Somebody could sneak in that’s not interested in the future of the town with an agenda that just doesn’t fit.”

When reached for comment on this story, Eve Barrett declined.

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