A brief FAQ.
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Can the N. Highland Lake Road project (U-5887) still be stopped?
Yes. According to NCDOT, the Flat Rock village council is still within the time frame to cancel the project.
Would the Village of Flat Rock have to pay NCDOT back for the work done so far?
No. According to NCDOT, the Village of Flat Rock would not be responsible for any costs associated with the road project, such as surveying and producing engineering designs, if it is canceled.
How long will the road project take to complete?
NCDOT estimates the project will take approximately two years to complete, beginning in December 2020.
Does this project upgrade how the roadway functions?
According to NCDOT, this road project does not upgrade how the roadway functions.
Will village taxes have to be raised if the road project is done?
Unknown. NCDOT will pay for the work on the road as well as 80% of the costs on constructing any sidewalks and/or greenways associated with the project. The village will pay the remaining 20%, currently estimated to be around $34,000. The village must also reimburse the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund a portion of the grant money they received to help buy the Park at Flat Rock. NCDOT will compensate the village for the property taken from the park, and it’s our understanding that that amount is still under negotiation.
But the road project calls for numerous trees to be cut down, and the village will be responsible for the costs of replanting all of those in the park. In addition, the village will bear the costs of reconfiguring sections of the Ed Lastein Trail as a parallel multi-use path is added. The village will also have the future long-term responsibility of the maintenance of all sidewalks, greenways, and paths.
Part of the road project includes a new entrance to the park, but NCDOT will only provide a curb cut for that entrance. Any additional construction of a road on park property to connect the new entrance to the parking lot must be paid for by the village as well as any on-going maintenance costs.
As you can see, there are a number of unknown and on-going costs, so it’s too early to say whether or not the road project will ultimately lead to increased taxes, but by incurring significant new maintenance and development costs, there will certainly be pressure on the budget.
Is N. Highland Lake Road an unsafe road?
No. According NCDOT using their data, N. Highland Lake Road is considered a standard road as far as safety. NCDOT rated the road as a 0 in their severity index.
The data provided by NCDOT shows 91 reported vehicle crashes along N. Highland Lake Road from 2011 to 2016. Forty-five of those 91 incidents occurred at or near the intersection of Spartanburg Highway and N. Highland Lake Road, a section of the road that NCDOT has already widened and straightened, and where NCDOT has already added left-turn lanes.
An additional 24 incidents occurred east of the railroad tracks (bringing it to a total of 69 accidents east of the railroad tracks) and a total of 11 incidents happened at the intersection of N. Highland Lake Road and Greenville Highway. That leaves 11 incidents over five years on the rest of N. Highland Lake Road.
There are no recorded traffic incidents from 2011 to 2016 of a left-turn accident on N. Highland Lake Road outside of the intersections with Greenville and Spartanburg Highways and the area around Ingles and the CVS Pharmacy.
Is the CLG lawsuit costing the village money?
It was the village council who incurred any cost by leaving the village open to legal action on an issue that could have been handled quickly and easily by the council last year.
CLG first raised the freedom of speech issue with the village back in January 2018 and presented them at the time with relevant court cases. The village council chose not to respond to our multiple requests that the sign control ordinance be reviewed by First Amendment legal experts to make sure it was compliant with the U.S. Constitution. It is actually not a difficult fix to protect our freedom of speech and protect the beauty of Flat Rock by limiting the physical aspects of signs (such as size, number, etc.)—something we all want to see.
An important role of our government is to protect the constitutional rights of its citizens—unfortunately, as the village admitted in their court filing, that did not happen here. With the village’s acknowledgement that the sign control ordinance is unconstitutional and must be amended, we are pleased that the issue is now moving toward a resolution.
CLG and the affected property owners have not asked for and will not receive any monetary damages for the violation of our rights, and our attorneys are helping amend the sign control ordinance at no cost to the village. The only cost to the village is their own attorneys’ fees—a cost self-imposed by their failure to resolve a constitutional issue.