After reviewing the modified plan presented by NCDOT on April 13, CLG:Flat Rock is asking the Flat Rock village council to vote to cancel the N. Highland Lake Road project. We saw nothing in the modified plan that addressed our greatest concerns. To the contrary, we saw a level of detail that has made us more concerned than ever about the impact of this road project on the cultural landscape of the Village of Flat Rock. We have sent the following letter with the accompanying photos to our council members.
Dear mayor and council members:
After listening to the presentation at the April 13 special village council meeting and reviewing NCDOT’s modified plans for the N. Highland Lake Road project (NCDOT project no. U-5887), the Cultural Landscape Group:Flat Rock is concerned about several significant issues, including:
Installing a retaining wall and removing trees at Pinecrest Presbyterian Church
Installing a 150-ft long retaining wall along the south side of the church parking lot makes it difficult to replant the area for screening and noise control purposes. It also creates a place for graffiti tagging.
Removing all of the mature trees eliminates the church’s screening protection for visual blight and traffic noise while denuding the western section of N. Highland Lake Road and destroying the existing pastoral ambience.
Building a box culvert under King Creek
Installing a box culvert will expand the current roadway over King Creek from the current 22 feet to at least 38 feet.
NCDOT also requires a minimum height of 3.5 feet for any safety barrier for a multiuse path, damaging the visual character of the dam and creek. As of now, NCDOT does not have any design plans for the box culvert area available for review.
King Creek must be rerouted during the construction and installation of any box culvert. This requires that both lanes of the road be closed during that time, hurting local businesses and inconveniencing residents.
The surrounding flora and fauna will suffer extensive ecological damage during construction. It often takes years for the immediate environment to recover.
Tying the multiuse path into the park trail system
The Park at Flat Rock is a dawn to dusk park. Creating a 24-hour entry point at the western-most section into the park will encourage nighttime access and will negatively impact the park.
Part of the NCDOT plan shows an expansion and upgrade of the existing pull-over area for cars on the north side of the road just west of King Creek. With the installation of the multiuse path over the creek, this will become a place for people to park cars to enter the park 24/7.
Increasing big rig truck traffic
Disregarding the historic district, and more particularly the properties that are protected by preservation easements, to create a wider intersection at N. Highland Lake Road and Greenville Highway infringes on Flat Rock’s designation in the National Register of Historic Places.
Making the turn more convenient for large trucks and tractor trailers will increase the pressure on Greenville Highway (NC 225) as more trucks use N. Highland Lake Road and Greenville Highway as a way to and from I-26. More trucks means more noise in the road corridor, affecting homeowners, park visitors, and church parishioners.
Trespassing onto Pinecrest Presbyterian Church property for parking
With access to the park and the multiuse path available 24/7, people will be looking for places to park after hours or if they want to start their bike ride/walk at the western end of the multiuse path. The Pinecrest Presbyterian Church parking lot could become a prime location for such parking.
This puts an additional burden on the church for security and maintenance. Because the village has no police presence, the church will have to depend on their own resources or the Henderson County Sheriff’s Department for monitoring.
Increasing traffic speed
Adding left turn lanes and dampening curves lead to faster traffic (per traffic studies).
Grading the railroad tracks will also create faster traffic. Any benefit of moving the park entrance farther west will be lost as cars that now slow down at the tracks will speed across.
Lacking adequate toilet facilities
Creating a trail/path system cannot be done in a vacuum. Asking people, including children and those with disabilities, to walk any distance also requires making sure there are enough toilet facilities to accommodate their needs.
The only public toilet facilities available near this road are in the park, and they are locked from dusk to dawn. With the church, park, and other properties along the road now accessible 24 hours a day through the sidewalk/multiuse path, a potential health hazard of waste and unsightly trash will be created.
We ask that you take these issues into consideration when making your decision, and we urge you to vote to cancel this road project.
Cultural Landscape Group:Flat Rock