Some residents of the Crooked Creek Golf Course neighborhood report they’ve received anonymous, mildly threatening letters after they publicly supported course owners in a recent court dispute.
One of the course owners also reported someone broke into and ransacked his home, though it’s unclear if the break-in is connected to the letters and the court case.
The neighborhood in northeast Fuquay-Varina is locked in a tense battle between the golf course owners and several homeowners.
The course owners want to demolish the 18-hole course and replace it with about 100 new homes. On July 2, a Wake County Superior Court judge denied the opposing residents’ request for a temporary injunction, allowing the course to be shut down. The course closed July 5, and the equipment is now being auctioned off.
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But many neighbors are opposed to the development, saying they paid extra to buy homes on a golf course. The president of the opposition group that filed the injunction said he and the group condemn the letters and have received negative letters themselves.
After the judge’s ruling, letters started being sent to residents who had submitted affidavits on behalf of the owners.
“You are among some of the world’s most despicable traitors,” the letter says. “Do you think you are going to be able to live in this neighborhood? Not many people liked you before, but with your aid to the enemy, you are truly despised.”
Russell Killen, the Raleigh lawyer who represents the course owners, said the letters were delivered to everyone who signed an affidavit supporting his clients.
The case is ongoing, he said, and the letters go beyond bullying. He said the letter-writer or writers could be charged with witness tampering, which can be a misdemeanor or a felony.
Killen, who is also the mayor of Knightdale, said he doesn’t suspect the opposing side’s lawyers have any connection to the letters. But he still called them, he said, to “ask them to control the Friends of Crooked Creek.”
The Friends of Crooked Creek is an LLC formed by about 90 of the Crooked Creek homeowners in order to file suit against the golf course owners.
Ken Boone, president of Friends of Crooked Creek, said he doesn’t support the letters nor does he know who is behind them. He said they’re neither productive nor proper.
“I was shocked by it just as much,” Boone said. “I did not care for it at all. And doing it anonymously made it even worse.”
He said members of his group also have received nasty, anonymous letters.
“It’s disappointing,” Boone said. “We keep reminding the neighbors we are neighbors and we’ve got disagreements, but we have to deal with it as neighbors.”
Killen said he hopes the fervor dies down before the veiled threats in the letter are carried out.
For example, one letter-writer says, “I hope it doesn’t happen, but I am surprised you haven’t suffered property damage.”
Killen said the comment carries more weight because someone broke into the home of Tony Withers, one of the course co-owners, during the legal dispute. The Wake County Sheriff’s Office is still investigating.
Killen said nothing was taken, and there’s no proof the break-in is connected to the Crooked Creek situation. But he said the timing is suspicious.
Killen said someone scribbled on a neighborhood sign in black marker, “I wonder who broke into your house!!! Ha-Ha!!,” after the Withers break-in.
Boone said he’s not sure where there aggression is coming from. Residents, he said, are disappointed with the judge’s decision.
“Once it did close there was kind of a wave of depression that hit the community,” Boones said. “Being a golf neighborhood but no longer seeing golfers, hearing golfers, it’s a little depressing.”
Residents still have a chance to bring their argument to a jury, but Boone said he doesn’t know when that would happen.
“We don’t want to drag it out,” he said. “We don’t want this to be over our heads for a long time, but I understand the court sytem in Wake County is very backed up.”
Killen said if the case goes to trial, he expects his clients will win again, clearing the way for development.
Doran: 919-460-2604; Twitter: @will_doran