07-29-09cover.jpg In 1965 when the Montclair subdivision was built, it was an idyllic place for young military families to raise their growing broods. It was close enough to Fort Bragg for the soldiers to get to work on time, yet removed enough to keep their lives separate. The homeowners planted trees and fl owers and settled in. Many were delighted 10 years later when Cross Creek Mall opened, as they had all the convenience of the mall, but maintained their sense of community in their tree-lined neighborhood. Some of those families have retired, and now watch their grandchildren play where their children once played. New families have moved in, but they are still sheltered under the trees that those original homeowners planted. Over the years traffi c has increased, and enterprising drivers began using the neighborhood as a cut-through to Raeford Road. But the sense of community is still there. Neighbors cross the road to chat on sunny afternoons. They wave to one another as they get in and out of their vehicles. But they are afraid all of that is about to change thanks to the N.C. Department of Transportation. The DOT TIP Project U-4442 is designed to open up Glensford Road from the extension, which runs from Morganton to Cliffdale, all the way to Raeford Road. The project, which has been years in the making, is designed to ease the fl ow of traffi c from Raeford to Morganton, by aligning Glensford Road with Hope Mills Road. While many citizens might cheer the concept, the residents of Montclair do not. Don Garner, a local businessman and resident of Glensford Road, is fairly outspoken when it comes to the subject of the road construction. “In 2004, they started asking citizens to go to meetings about the proposed road construction. They enlightened us on their plans, and asked us for input,” he explained. “A lot of us gave them our input, but we never heard back from them.” According to Garner, the next time the citizens heard from the DOT was in 2007 when they were invited back for another community meeting. “They asked for our input, and we gave it,” he said. “In April 2008, they called us back and showed us plans and asked for our input, while showing us what they were going to do. They still haven’t heard what {mosimage}we said.” What the DOT did present to the citizens, and what is moving forward, is the construction of what residents call a “super highway” through their neighborhood. Imagine the Glensford Extension (the road that runs between Morganton and Cliffdale) dividing your neighborhood. That, along with three round-abouts, is what residents are facing. Garner said DOT offi cials explained that the addition of the round-abouts will keep traffi c moving, in lieu of stop signs, which would create stop-and-go traffi c. Garner said he isn’t opposed to the roundabouts, except that they take up a lot of property. His neighbors agree. Thomas Bell noted, “They are going to have to take out those houses where they put the round-abouts. Those folks are just going to lose their homes.” Homes that will have to be destroyed will be purchased by the DOT at fair-market value. Other residents will be affected in other ways, some very visibly and some not as tangible. The plans call for the widening of the two-lane road to four lanes, divided by a 16 foot grassy median, just like the median that divides the highway on the Glensford Extension. Additionally, sidewalks will be built on each side of the road, with a 5 foot setback from the road. To make up the difference in the land needed for the construction, the DOT is seeking to take 15 feet on each side of the road, which for the majority of the residents brings the road almost to their door steps. Currently, the majority of the homes sit on lots that are 80 x 140 feet. The DOT plan will cut the lots to 80 x 125 feet or 10,000 square feet, which residents understand to be the minimum for R-10 residential zoning. Some of the homes are on lots smaller than that and will fall under the 10,000 feet limit, which residents say will open them up to spot zoning, and will ultimately affect what they can do with their property. “That’s just one of the problems{mosimage} we are looking at,” continued Garner. “This highway is going to be just feet from our doors. The traffi c is going to increase dramatically, and with the amount of land they are taking, many of us won’t even have room to park our vehicles in our driveways.” Steve Averitte, who owns a small construction company, will be able to get two cars in his driveway once the construction is begun, but believes the back end of one vehicle will stick out into the sidewalk. And those trees, which provide shade in the summer and block the homes from the road, are already slated to come down. “It’s kind of ironic that one of the city’s goals is to preserve existing trees, and they are going to cut down all of these old growth trees all along this roadway,” said Steve. The residents say they understand the need for the road, but they don’t understand the need for its size. “Let’s put in a turn lane instead of a median, or if they really feel like we need a median, then put in a 2 foot median, with sidewalks on the edge of the road, like they are on Cliffdale,” argued Garner. “That way they wouldn’t have to take so much land, we could keep our yards and our trees and traffi c could still fl ow. We fi gure they are taking as much as they can for later on, then maybe they’ll make it six lanes instead of four.” The residents, who have already seen stakes with white fl ags going up in their yards, hope it’s not too late to change the DOT’s plans. They’ve been calling the Fayetteville City Council asking for their help. When contacted, Chavonne said, “The DOT had a series of public hearings, and it is my understanding that they were very controversial. It came to the council some time ago and decisions were made. It is a DOT road, and it is their responsibility. I have asked our staff to research the matter and to see if there is any recourse to change the plan. We understand that it is undoubtedly very unpopular in some people’s minds.”
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