By Derek Lacey / Staff Writer
Construction traffic from a development in the extraterritorial jurisdiction of Mint Hill is damaging roads and unnerving residents of a neighboring subdivision, routing through their streets to prevent damage to their own roads.
The development, located on Hough Road, across from Arlington Baptist Church, first began construction around 2008, when they caused the same problem. Construction traffic has recently started again, further damaging Meadow Hollow Road, the road used to reach the development from the rear of the property.
Vincent Ammirato, a resident of the neighborhood and street is working to get to the bottom of the issue and find out why construction traffic is using his neighborhood to access the new development, causing damage to Meadow Hollow Road, while avoiding roads within the development itself.
The first phase of construction began in 2008, and construction traffic was very heavy, causing quite a bit of damage, but this time, traffic has slowed to a few trucks per day, but the same problems are present.
The traffic consists of large trucks carrying heavy loads of concrete and other construction equipment, and according to Ammirato, the roads are too small to handle the wide-load traffic, and the trucks must sometimes make four-point turns and drive off the road to get to their destination.
Ammirato has contacted Mint Hill Senior Planner John Hoard, and Mint Hill Deputy Town Manager Lee Bailey about the issue, who have just begun to look into it, and have notified Mecklenburg County about the situation.
One course of action for the developers is to take out a municipal bond on the streets, where the developer and Mint Hill public works officials would evaluate the current status of the road, and after construction concludes, the road will be evaluated, and the developer would pay for any damages.
This was not done the first time and has not been done yet, but Ammirato said that the extensive damage done to the road the first time was repaired with loose asphalt that quickly gave way and returned the street to its current, poor conditions.
The first time, according to Ammirato, “The damage was bad enough to the road that state DOT on an independent evaluation determined that emergency repairs were necessary to keep the integrity of the road intact, or else it would be a complete loss.”
Ammirato explained the current conditions of the road as a “jigsaw puzzle,” saying there isn’t a place in the road where it isn’t cracked, and holes are abundant.
Who is responsible for the roads is unclear, since they are in the extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) of the town, they must adhere to town ordinance, yet the town is not responsible for the maintenance or upkeep. That is the responsibility of the North Carolina Department of Transportation, since the roads are technically state roads. But, neither the town nor NCDOT have accepted maintenance responsibilities for the roads.
Ammirato spoke with a driver of one of the trucks, who said they were taking the Meadow Hollow route because residents on Hough Road, the opening street to the subdivision, informed the construction crews that Hough was a private road and they would not allow the construction traffic, yet Ammirato doubts that is the only reason they have chosen this route into the development.
According to town staff, Hough Road is not a private road, since the town does not allow subdivisions on private roads, but it is not the town’s road either, creating a unique problem.
Hoard described the situation as a “grey area,” saying that he has spoken with the community, who are “absolutely opposing any sort of construction traffic going through their particular route,” but that it is also “a public right of way without a doubt.”
The solution to the situation is not apparent, but the developers, residents, town and county will be involved in figuring out who is responsible for the road and its repairs, and which route the construction traffic should take.
Ammirato is optimistic about the situation and said that he is pleased with the response and action of the town.