Lawsuit Against County, Church, Athletic Association Headed To NC Court Of Appeals

It looks as if one couple’s fight against a ball field next their McGee’s Crossroads home will go into extra innings. 

Ray and Jamone Johnson’s petition against the Johnston County Board of Commissioners, the McGee’s Crossroads Athletic Association (MCAA) and Johnson Memorial Church — the three entities responsible for a recreational field along Highway 50 — was heard in Johnston County Superior Court in December.

The two claim the increased noise levels and bright lighting at night of the field have become intrusive and daunting since the field’s use was approved in January 2015.

The initial hearing lasted for hours with Judge Thomas Lock ultimately deciding to delay his decision to review the case further.

Fast-forward to early February and that decision came — to the chagrin of the Johnsons, Judge Lock ruled in favor of the MCAA and the county’s allowance of a special use permit for the field.

However, the Johnsons have filed a notice of appeal, which will bump the case up to the Appeals Court of North Carolina later this year.

“From day one, all of the surrounding/adjacent property owners were denied due process,” wrote Mrs. Johnson in a letter to The Daily Record in December.

“We have stadium lights which illuminate our property, we have many people only 100 feet from our back door four nights a week during season and on Saturday, trespassing, a chain link fence with no buffering, storm water issues and the list goes on,” she said.

The church and athletic association produced a joint response letter following the Johnson’s claims, which, in addition to the noise and lighting, accused the groups of misusing bond money for the field.

In the document, signed by both Johnson Memorial Deacon Board chair Barry Honeycutt and MCAA president Robert Gordon, they address some specifics.  

“1. All efforts are being made to prevent illumination on the Johnson property. 2. The PA system has generally been used for play on the National Anthem on Saturday morning and at special events. Games are not announced over the PA system,” a list begins. “3. The fields were constructed mostly on existing grass fields, and very little grading or diversion of storm water resulted from the improvements… .A majority of the vehicle lights (in the parking lot) do not face the Johnson property and the traffic that is out there falls in line with county ordinances.”

The letter continues, expressing a desire from both organizations to resolve the situation amicably.

An exact date for the appellate hearing has not yet been set. Story by The Daily Record