JP2 athletic cmplex

Rich Balot, the developer of the John Paul II Catholic High School Athletic Complex, said this photograph, taken in July using a drone, shows that the football field’s lighting is not encroaching on surrounding homeowners.

Opening a private school’s athletic complex to third-party usage will bring more tournaments and money to the community, the executive director of Greenville-Pitt Sports Commission said during a Thursday public hearing before Greenville City Council.

The council is considering a new text amendment that will create a use classification for small private schools.

The sports commission’s Gray Workman Williams and nine other speakers focused their comments on an amendment removing conditions that limited the usage of athletic facilities at John Paul II Catholic School, located on East 14th Street.

“This is an example of someone in our community privately helping to fill a void of more facilities for tournament and community use,” Williams said.

Nearby residents who previously opposed the text amendment, saying it could subject them to lengthy periods of lighting and amplified sound, withdrew their objections during the meeting because of a last-minute compromise in the document’s language.

City planning staff proposed a text amendment after Rich Balot sought to expand the usage of its athletic complex.

Balot, who is the registered agent of the company that owns the school’s property, originally obtained a special-use permit to build the athletic complex. It only allowed teams from the high school and its related middle school to use the facilities.

When the complex opened last year Balot wanted youth leagues and community groups to use the facilities. However, he didn’t want to go through the special-use permit process, fearing additional restrictions could be placed on the facility.

In September 2019, city planning staff met with Balot and residents from Planter’s Walk, Planter’s Trail and Quail Ridge who complained lighting was spilling into their backyards and sometimes their houses. There also were noise complaints.

Initially, Balot wanted to rezone the property to remove the limitations. City staff opposed the request, so Balot pursued a text amendment.

Nearly neighbors opposed the text amendment because of the amount of time lighting and amplified sound could be used.

Balot and representatives of the neighborhood, working with planning staff, negotiated changes to the amendment, including a session on Wednesday. 

Additional changes were made on Wednesday and the neighborhood representatives agreed to withdraw their opposition.

“I believe the changes that have been presented tonight are an improvement,” said Thomas Feller Jr., one of the neighborhood representatives.

“I feel like I could live with this latest version,’ said Donna Jacobs.

The changes limit usage of amplified sound and lighting of the outdoor facilities by “entities other than the associated schools” to once a month instead of once a week. The one-time use consists of one event on one day. The change also states that no amplified sound for the one-time use will be permitted past 9 p.m.

The outdoor amplified sound cannot exceed a sustained level higher than 75 decibels at the adjacent property line.

There will be no restrictions on amplified sound equipment that produces 60 decibels or less between the hours of 9:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m.

Planner Brad Sceviour said the school will have unlimited usage of sound, up to 75 decibels, and lights from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 9:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Scott Koesters, whose child attends the school, said opening the facility to others falls under the Catholic tradition of sharing resources with others and being a good neighbor.

Troy Loftin, a coach with the Pitt Lightning youth football team, said practicing at the school will expose his players to facilities they don’t see unless playing in out of state tournaments.

Opening the athletic complex to outside usage will expand participation in existing tournaments held in the city and bring in new tournaments which will bring more money to the community, Williams said. 

The council took no action on the text amendment or 13 other public hearings held during its three-hour remote session.

State law requires elected boards to give the public 24 hours to submit additional comments before voting. The council will hold a remote meeting 6 p.m. on Monday to vote on the various public hearings.

People can either email their comments to PublicInput@greenvillenc.gov or leave them at the city clerk’s office, 200 W. Fifth St. Individuals must include their name and address and include either “public comment” or “public hearing” in the email subject line.

Contact Ginger Livingston at glivingston@reflector.com or 252-329-9570.