Many of the people living on Eatmon Road, in O’Neal’s Township between Clayton and Zebulon, moved there to get away from the hectic pace of more populated areas.
Donnie Temple, who keeps geese and turkeys on his land, is typical. Before moving to this dead-end, rural road, he was living in Garner, where city life was starting to bother him.
Like many of his neighbors, Temple is worried about one family’s plan for its land. The Gonzalezes — José, Maria Talamantes and son George — want to convert part of their land into three soccer fields.
Temple said the fields would draw too much of a crowd, overwhelming the narrow road with traffic and turning the neighborhood into a parking lot.
“I’m not against progress,” Temple said. “But the commercial stuff belongs in the cities.”
Last month, the Gonzalez family took its plan to the Johnston County Planning Board, which said it would recommend that county commissioners not approve the rezoning request. Commissioners will consider the request in February.
George Gonzalez said he just wants to give kids a place to play and provide schools and community groups with a venue for youth soccer.
“This is just to promote soccer and to get kids out and play,” he said. “This is going to be open for the schools.”
Maria said they’re also interested in renting the fields out to leagues, which could crowds. That plan has neighbors worried.
Kevin Tharrington, whose property borders the Gonzalez land, said three soccer fields would bring in far too much traffic. The road would be crowded the cars of players, their families, spectators and officials.
“My uncle lives near a soccer field — there are 300 people there every Sunday,” Tharrington said. “That’s too much traffic for me.”
If the plan goes through, Tharrington said he’ll sell his land.
People living on Eatmon Road love to hunt. Every few minutes, the peace and quiet is broken by the sound of a gunshot — probably one of the neighbors shooting at deer or targets on his land.
Matt Stokes said he’s worried that could change if the plan goes through. “I like to shoot out there,” he said. “I don’t want to worry about kids running around.”
The Gonzalezes told the planning board they don’t plan to sell alcohol, but they do want to sell concessions. George said they would probably sell water and snacks.
Thomas Jones, who has lived on Eatmon for 26 years, said that could eventually lead to alcohol sales. “If you can sell food in Johnston County, you can sell beer,” he said. “I just don’t think that’s a good idea.”
The family did not comment for this article, but George opened up after last month’s planning board meeting. He was dismissive of the two biggest concerns brought up there — noise and litter.
“We’re responsible for our own mess,” he said, adding: “It’s 30 acres — there’s not going to be a lot of noise.”
The soccer field proposal is the latest in a series of new developments irritating Eatmon Road residents. A utilities contractor opened at one end of the road a couple of years ago, bringing in some unwanted noise and traffic.
The company eventually moved, but the property owner has received clearance to allow storage facilities there. Kenneth Jones, who also lives on the road, complains the area is turning into “Eatmon Industrial Park.”
Tharrington said he’s OK with some change, but the effect the soccer fields would have on the road would be drastic. “If I wanted to live near a ball field, I’d live in town,” he said.