Residents Oppose Future Middle School Site

School Board Meeting 6-11-15By Laura Crosio

Seven concerned Norris Road homeowners appeared before the Johnston County School Board on June 9 to appeal the construction of new middle school on a road they say is dangerous and may cause congestion to their area.

Last month, Johnston County Commissioners approved the purchase of a tract of land near the intersection of Norris Road and Lee Road for the construction of a new Cleveland-area middle school.

But Norris Road resident Laurel Causby said while she understands the need for a new school in the area, many property owners have concerns regarding the proposed site, especially since a young child was killed on a section of the road in 1998 due to poor visibility.

According to news reports, a 7-year-old girl was struck by an oncoming car as she stepped into the road near her bus stop. The Highway Patrol determined the 17-year-old driver was within the speed limit and the glare of the sun played a part in the accident. The collision was witnessed by the girl’s family, other school children, as well as a school bus driver.

“Norris road is a very short road,” said Causby. “It has a short curve with little visibility. We believe these dangers still remain and have not been addressed.”

Causby also cited a concern with increased traffic not only on her street but on nearby Barbour Mill Road. She was disappointed that surrounding property owners were not made aware of the proposed school site.

“How can such an import proposal move so far without these persons immediately involved (notified),” asked Causby. “There is going to be a new school built just on the other side of our family’s property line. It felt more like a secret decision rather than a transparent one.”

Paul Pasquarelli, also a Norris Road homeowner, not only objects to the location but has concerns about his Second Amendment rights being violated if he is no longer allowed to shoot on his property. He is worried about losing land for road widening and to lay pipelines.

“I have gone to great costs to clear my land and build a really good backstop,” he said. “To say I can’t shoot (anymore) on my land isn’t right.”

Superintendent Dr. Ed Croom said officials reviewed between 13 and 17 locations for the proposed middle school. He gave the homeowners an opportunity to move to a private conference room for further discussion with Patrick Jacobs, JCS’s Chief Operations Officer.

“I love to shoot too, and hunt, so I understand that,” Dr. Croom said. “Growth is an issue and we are constantly looking for land to meet the needs of the county. We are growing one school a year in this district. I truly, truly, understand your concerns.”