Ch-ch-changes (part 5 of 9)

Retaining walls ad infinitum.

Reminder: This project was not initiated by NCDOT and the Flat Rock village council has the power to stop it.

Part 5 looks at the impact of the N. Highland Lake Road project (NCDOT U-5887) on a historic private home on the south side of the road.

The Dam House, 1893: The Dam House was built as a wedding present for Harriet Lowndes Rhett and Dr. Joseph Maybank. At the time the house was built, Highland Lake was owned by the Rhett family and the lake was known as Rhett’s Pond. A preservation easement agreement was donated to Historic Flat Rock, Inc. by then president Richard Stanland and his wife, Suzanne. The house has now returned to the Maybank family and that preservation easement remains with the property.

According to the National Park Service, a preservation easement “allows a property owner to retain private ownership of the property while insuring that the historic character of the property will be preserved.” Yet, based on conversations with NCDOT at the public meeting on the N. Highland Lake Road project (Oct 17, 2017), the homeowners were told that NCDOT would impact this historic property.


Effect of proposed changes would:

  • Create construction easements, including regrading some of the land and using retaining walls (number, length, and height not yet determined). “One location was at the driveway and gate [western end of the property], although no one was able to describe what they wanted to do and how much land they felt they needed to change. It was not clear if the [historic stone] pillars and gate would be effected,” according to the owner.   
  • Create drainage easement at eastern end of the property. “The second triangle was closer to the dam, along the very steep slope of road frontage. Again, the DOT spokesman was not clear what work would be done but he did say that it was for drainage purposes. You can drive along the road and see how very steep the slope is all along my line.” And on the map above, you can see how deeply this would cut into the slope.
  • Jeopardize the gravel driveway, the only access to the house, with construction and drainage easements. Because of the shape of the property, there is no other location that the driveway can go other than where it is now.
  • Increase speed on the road with widening of the roadbed and dampening of curves.

On the map above:

  • Orange: existing roadway to be resurfaced
  • Yellow: proposed new roadway
  • Thick red line to the north of the road: multi-use path
  • Thin red line: curb and gutter
  • Light green: proposed new NCDOT right-of-way
  • Light green area with diagonal lines: proposed new NCDOT easement for drainage, construction, and utility systems

This map shows the historic district line incorrectly–the line actually goes down the middle of the road (NCDOT has been presented with the correct historic district boundary for Flat Rock’s designation on the National Register of Historic Places).

Part 1, part 2part 3part 4part 6part 7part 8, and part 9.

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