EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

September 9, 2013

Feud between Rep. Lyons and neighbor continues

LAWRENCE — State Rep. Jim Lyons, R-Andover, was back in court last week in the latest chapter in a nearly decade-long bitter property feud with a neighbor in the Ballardvale section of Andover.

In this latest volley, abutting property owner William Johnson was accused of violating the terms of a 2011 probation order in place after he and his wife were both convicted and served time for criminally harassing Lyons’ family in 2008.

The harassment — which included a false accusation of child molestation — followed Lyons’ vocal opposition to plans by Johnson and his wife to build a 4,500-square-foot home on Reynolds Street on a site that backs up to the legislator’s 12 High Vale Lane home.

Lawrence District Court Judge Michael Brooks sided with Johnson in a probation violation hearing Wednesday, ruling that the “indirect contact” he had last month with Lyons’ family did not violate the no-contact order that’s part of his probation.

But Brooks did order Johnson to stay away from his Reynolds Street property until he presents the court with “a plan to minimize contact” with the Lyons family.

The court-ordered plan would require Johnson to let the Lyons family know when he expected to be on his Reynolds Street property during instances when his presence is necessary, Brooks said.

“Minimize contact, not eliminate,” Brooks told Johnson. “I’m not saying that the work can’t continue — you can’t be there for any reason.”

In addition to having no contact with the Lyonses, the Johnsons, under the terms of their probation, are prohibited from traveling on High Vale Lane. The Johnsons lived at 36 High Vale Lane, down the street from Lyons, when the harassment charges were first brought.

An amendment to the probation order that expired in mid-August previously allowed the Johnsons to be at the house at 36 High Vale Lane, which the couple have since sold, having now moved to Reading. They have, however, bought the Reynolds Street property, which they had a purchase-and-sales agreement on for years, and are proceeding with construction of the house.

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