Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Neighbors Frustrated by the Missionary’s Position

Realtor Mike Henry, a leader of the group of big developers who fought the proposed Fayetteville road impact fees, compared the outcome of the special election in April to Bush’s presidential "election" of 2000 and said “Praise the Lord.”

Ward 4 voter Michael Lea, aka Michael K. Lee, whose vote created a 2,015-2,015 tie and killed the Fayetteville road impact fees, is said to be a Christian missionary in Panama who sometimes makes short trips back to town, during which he stays with his parents. His absentee ballot was mailed from a military base in Panama but was not received until a week after the election. His sworn ballot information listed two different addresses and three different zip codes. Like the Lord, he is everywhere, and now his parent's west Fayetteville neighbors are beginning to understand what the prodigal son wrought.

It is now obvious that infrastructure in west Fayetteville, particularly roads, will be overwhelmed when developments currently in planning stages are completed, Ward 4 residents told Fayetteville City Council members and developers Monday night. Only 923 voters of the 10,019 registered voters in Ward 4 on the city’s west side bothered to vote in the special election on road impact fees, but now they’re complaining about the impact that developers are having on traffic congestion in their neighborhoods. Big surprise.

Jim Bemis, who did support impact fees, said that traffic studies conducted by independent developers estimate only traffic for a single project, while the overall traffic load on Wedington and the surrounding area between I-540 and Double Springs Road is never looked at in a cumulative manner. "We've got the potential for some serious traffic issues," said local resident Bob Estes. "We're going to be left with a train wreck." Sondra Smith, the city clerk who is a Ward 4 resident, expressed concern about traffic on Rupple Road, which she said was “going to be a death zone.” At an earlier meeting Ward 4 residents demanded that state highway improvements on Wedington add a fifth suicide turn lane instead of the landscaped median and bike lanes originally proposed.

Ward 4 Alderman Lioneld Jordan said the city only has about $2 million for new road improvements over the next five years. Jordan supported the impact fees that would have generated an estimated $3.4 million a year for additional street projects, and he plans to bring the issue back for action by the City Council to resolve the problem resulting from the tie vote in the April election. Let us hope that the five members who supported road impact fees in the past have the courage to do the right thing.

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