UPDATE: Conway arrested for trespassing
by Anna Oakes
A trespassing charge added to Eustace Conway's recent legal battles with Watauga County on Wednesday.
Conway was arrested on a charge of second-degree trespassing based on a complaint filed by Margaret Palms, whose property at 2473 Little Laurel Road borders land owned by Conway known as Turtle Island Preserve.
Palms, a Boone attorney and real estate agent, said Conway disputes the location of the property line between his land and that of Palms and her husband and that Conway has crossed onto her property a number of times.
"He thinks that he owns part of our land," said Palms. "He's been on our property several times, and we've asked him not to come on it." Palms said that a few nights ago, Conway tied her gate shut and posted papers on the gate and in the area "that said something like he wanted our land."
"That was kind of the last straw," she said. "It's getting a little bit scary," adding that Conway has threatened her and her husband before.
Conway, who was released Wednesday on a written promise to appear in court Jan. 24, 2013, said his attorneys advised that he not speak about the incident -- "as much as I would love to comment."
Palms said Conway has had disputes with other neighbors over adjoining land, especially since there has been more development in the area. She said she and her husband used to be friendly with Conway and that she has tried to settle the property line dispute in the past.
"I really didn't want to do it. I don't like getting the police involved," she said. "I don't have any animosity toward him. That's just something that's a little bit scary."
According to the Watauga County Sheriff's Office, Conway was called Wednesday and given the opportunity to turn himself in. Upon his arrival, a sheriff's deputy served the arrest warrant at the magistrate's office.
Sheriff Len Hagaman said the deputy described Conway as "nice and cooperative" during the arrest.
For more than a month, Conway's 1,000-acre Turtle Island Preserve, an environmental education center and camp, has been closed to the public as a result of health and building code violations.
Watauga County Planning & Inspections Director Joe Furman said the county's investigation leading to those violations stemmed from a complaint made by a neighbor about grading and building taking place without permits. Palms said she is not the neighbor who complained to the Planning & Inspections Department.
Although deadlines to respond to the county about the violations have since passed, neither department has yet initiated any further action against Conway.