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Killing road project would be 'insanity,' former village council member tells county

Highland Lake Road Highland Lake Road

While the new majority on the Flat Rock Village Council is moving quickly in an effort to kill the Highland Lake Road improvement project, supporters of the project aren’t going down without a fight.

The Flat Rock Village Council voted 5-1 to endorse the project in June 2018, turning back opponents who pleaded with the village to say no. With three newly elected members aboard, the Village Council voted 4-3 last week to reverse that endorsement and ask the NCDOT to kill the project.
Supporters of the project, including current council members who are now the minority in a 4-3 council makeup against the project, past council members and a few other elected officials have been working behind the scenes to save the road job, which is mainly in the village but also passes through the city of Hendersonville — at the Spartanburg Highway end — and Henderson County. The lobbying effort broke into the open Monday night, when former Flat Rock Village Council member John Dockendorf implored the Henderson County Board of Commissioners to support the project’s completion.
“In the next month, the Village of Flat Rock is going to ask you to kill the North Highland Lake project,” he said. “Please do not kill this good project.”
Dockendorf, who declined to run for re-election to the council last year, represented the village on the county Transportation Advisory Committee and the French Broad MPO for four years. In that role he was “very intimately involved with this project,” he said. “I’m sure Mr. Lapsley will agree, roads are hard. … In the next 20-25 years, we’re going to have about 50,000 more people here, so we’ve got to plan now. Letting the village kill a very viable project, for which the state has already spent a million dollars, to me is absolute insanity.”
The faction opposed to the road project “won by 128 votes and voted 4-3 to kill the project,” he said. If Highland Lake Road becomes too congested, traffic may instead go to Shepherd Street, requiring a widening that would put “a road right in the front yard of 37 homes. The North Highland Lake did not affect a single person in Flat Rock” in terms of homeowners. “This passed the Flat Rock Council 6-1. The NCDOT has already acquired over 60 percent of the property. ... If you vote to kill it, it will set a terrible precedent that says every project is negotiable … and even though it’s started it can be stopped.”
Commissioners did not respond to Dockendorf’s appeal.
The Hendersonville City Council will consider whether to sustain or reverse its past support of the project on Thursday night. The TAC and French Broad MPO are expected to take up the village’s request to kill the project later this month. Village Council member Anne Coletta has said council members hoping to kill the project are exploring the options to appeal a decision by the NCDOT that does not go their way.