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Opponents fight Proehl development deal

by Jordan Green

A lawsuit filed by neighbors of a proposed sports complex planned by Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Ricky Proehl on Greensboro’s northwestern fringe challenges the process by which the Guilford County Commission approved the project and hints that one or more commissioners may have business relationships with lawyers for the developers.Proehl played college football for Wake Forest and spent three years in his professional career with the Carolina Panthers.

Lead plaintiff Joseph Moss, a lawyer who also lives next door to the proposed Proehlific Park, declined to comment on the opponents’ procedural objections to the commission vote, but expressed displeasure at the impact the facility would have on nearby residents. “I don’t want the sports complex in our neighborhood because it’s going to reduce the value of our property and make it very difficult to live there,” he said. “It will have just as many lights and people as Carolyn Allen Park. That’s why we don’t want it. Traffic, noise, the lights. If you look at the plat they’ve filed, the left field fence will be directly across from my driveway. The traffic will dump out in front of my house and my neighbor’s house. We can’t get out right now because of the new school up the road.”

The lawsuit filed by Moss, his wife Nancy, Patrick and Susan Harman, and Tricia Fish, names as defendants Ricky Proehl, the Guilford County Commission, Tory Hill Partners, Alan W. Sutton and Thomas Somerville.

The Guilford County Planning Board unanimously approved a special use permit for Proehlific Park – described as “a youth park and center for children, being privately financed and involving NFL player Ricky Proehl” – last October. After Proehl’s group requested a continuance from the Guilford County Commission last December, the proposal was brought back to the commission in April, when it received unanimous approval.

“Mr. Proehl and others testified before the Commission about ‘his dream’ to help youth in the community,” the lawsuit recounts. “Mr. Proehl brought and others brought into the Commission quite a number of Little League baseball players outfitted in Proehlific Park Little League baseball uniforms.”Among the procedural points described as “errors of law” is the allegation by the plaintiffs that the Proehl group failed to make documents presented to the Planning Board available to opponents of the project, that the county failed to allow opponents to cross examine the special permit applicants, and commissioners appeared to have already made up their minds to support the project before the public hearing.

The lawsuit also suggests that at least one of the commissioners has a business relationship with the attorneys representing the applicants. The Proehl group’s lawyers are identified in the lawsuit as Norman Klick and Marc Isaacson.

Correspondence from Moss to one of the lawyers on the opposing side suggests frustration.Moss gave notice to Isaacson in a May 3 letter that “any work done on the property by Tory Hill Properties or Ricky Proehl after this date will be done at their own risk.”

On the morning of May 11, the lawsuit notes, bulldozers appeared at the site of the proposed sports complex and began knocking down trees. Moss reached out to Isaacson again, trying to determine who was providing legal counsel to the developers.

“Marc, I understand from our conversation that you will not be representing Tory Hill, et al,” he wrote.

Isaacson referred questions about the case to Klick,”I’m no longer in the picture as far as the lawsuit is concerned,” he said.

To comment on this story, e-mail Jordan Green at jordan@yesweekly.com.

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