HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — A proposed development in Huntersville has gotten even more controversial now that the developer has filed a lawsuit against two women for their comments on social media.
Developer Jake Palillo hopes to develop Lagoona Bay on 270 acres off Sam Furr Road. It would consist of about 1,000 residential units, restaurants, a hotel/conference center, and a members-only country club with a crystal lagoon.
The project has faced harsh opposition from those that live around it. Neighbors have expressed concerns about the traffic the resort would bring and what would happen to the lagoon if it did not sell enough memberships to sustain its business model.
Among the opposers are Noelle Burton and Violet Clarke. But they never thought that their comments on social media would land them in the middle of a lawsuit.
“It’s just spiraling out of control,” said Burton. “He never should have opened up this can of worms to sue us. [This is] a frivolous case that probably will get thrown out.”
Court documents show Palillo is suing both women for more than $25,000 each.
In the suit against Clarke, Palillo and his lawyer claim she launched a “smear campaign” against him and was defamatory when she commented on social media:
“He’s not for the community at all. He’s for himself and his greedy family.”
The suit against Burton makes similar accusations and references her social media comments implying Palillo is “greedy and doesn’t follow through with any of his projects” and “corrupt for living in Cornelius but being on the Huntersville Ordinance/Rezoning Board.”
Corruption was never used in context, per the defendant.
The ladies are both now compiling documents that they say back up the claims they’ve made against Palillo. They also say that no matter how many lawsuits they get hit with, they won’t stop speaking out.
“There’s so much. This is just the beginning,” said Burton.
Palillo told Queen City News that he would not comment on pending litigation.
During Monday’s Huntersville Board of Commissioners meeting, a public hearing is scheduled for the Lagoona Bay project.