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Homeowners pan Balfour Parkway corridor

Homeowners asked question of NCDOT engineers about the proposed Balfour Parkway. Homeowners asked question of NCDOT engineers about the proposed Balfour Parkway.

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Hundreds of homeowners turned out Tuesday to get a first look at possible routes of the proposed Balfour Parkway and many said they hope the lines on the map near their homes never become a four-lane highway.

The NCDOT held its first public input meeting on the route for the roughly 5-mile connector between I-26 and Asheville Highway, the first of three segments in a state highway project that would eventually run from U.S. East to N.C. 191. The first segment is funded. Right-of-way acquisition would be in 2022 and construction would start in 2024 if the project goes forward.

Property owners who showed up told state engineers and transportation consultants that they hope it does not.

“Even though they claim there is no decision made at this time it puts everybody under this cloud,” said Wayne Forsyth, a resident of Dogwood Forest off N.C. 191. Under state law, real estate agents are required to disclose that a new road may be coming near a property on the market, he said.

Opponents have formed Stop the Balfour Parkway and launched a Facebook page and are pushing for a western alternative that would connect I-26 between the Mountain Home and Airport Road exits to Mills River. Many homeowners showed uo from Foxwood, Stoney Mountain Estates and other neighborhoods off Stoney Mountain Road and Grimesdale off Brookside Camp Road.

“They can avoid a lot of these houses and people if they went on up 26 like this plan here,” said Maury Wray. “This is farm fields. Right here is the old Rockwell. It’s all farm fields right there. Avoid all these houses. Connect to 280 on this side of 280 and you don’t have to bother all these neighborhoods. ... Me and my wife spent six years planning our retirement house and another three years building it and we’re 99 percent done and we get this news. This really broke my wife’s heart. It’s terrible.”

“I think it’s a horrible idea,” said Dennis Roberts, a resident of Foxwood. “This area is almost completely residential and very close to being overdeveloped and very close to being overdeveloped. Why not do this?” he said, holding up a copy of the alternative plan the Balfour Parkway opponents handed out at the meeting. “They’re destroying neighborhood after neighborhood after neighborhood. They’re directing commercial from here through this residential area.”

Alex Chapman, 30, bought a home and moved in with his wife and “brand new” baby daughter on J.P. Huggins Drive two years ago. Real estate agents never mentioned the fact that a new road might be going in hear his house.
“I cashed in all my first-time buyer incentives and it’s a blessing I got this house,” he said. “I won’t be able to do that again.”
Jim Crafton, who served on the county Transportation Advisory Committee for 20 years, observed the crowd and talked to people about the project that has been a rough line on a map since the early 2000s.
“If you put a new road in that’s going to stir up people’s curiosity and some objections,” he said.
One of the few residents who showed up, looked at the plans and came away with a favorable view was Robert Eaton.
“I think it’s a good idea,” he said. “In the late ‘70s there was a proposal to do this and everyone screamed and they killed it. We should have done it then.”