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'Extreme Makeover' irritates some neighbors

By Mark Washburn
TV/Radio Writer

Windsor Park residents said Tuesday they were happy for their neighbors – who got a new home this month from ABC's “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” – but the film crew's weeklong invasion left them upset.

Among their complaints: Lawns were trampled, the local bus stop was moved, people were kept from walking to see the house by the show's security force and the 5,100-square-foot home was just too big.

“I was told by ABC our neighborhood would have access – they could walk up and see it,” said Jim Roberts, president of the neighborhood association for Windsor Park.

But residents trying to walk in and see the project were told they had to go to nearby Eastland Mall and come in on a bus, he said.

“I didn't even sign a consent form,” said A.J. Jillani, a nine-year resident of Windsor Park who found a security post on his lawn. “They just took over my yard.”

Ray Montgomery, who lives next door to the “Extreme Makeover” house in the 4200 block of Sudbury Road, said he was happy for his neighbors, Curtis and Alisha King, who were selected by the show because of their community service through their home day care.

But the house producers built – two stories high, two porches in front and a two-car garage – overpowers others in the neighborhood, mostly one-story brick houses built in the 1960s.

“They say they don't build McMansions,” said Montgomery, who moved into his house in 1981. “That's a McMansion in this neighborhood right now.”

Their remarks came during a Tuesday night meeting of the neighborhood association at Windsor Park Elementary School. It attracted 80 residents from the 2,600-home community off Central Avenue in Charlotte's east side.

Some residents said they thought the program was a good thing, showing off their area to the thousands of volunteers and sightseers who otherwise would never know Windsor Park – full of tidy yards shaded by mature oaks – was even there.

“I think this is a great thing for our neighborhood,” said Bunnie Holston who lives on Firethorne Road.

Curtis King, who left with his family while the “Makeover” house was built, said he was sorry for the inconvenience to his neighbors. He said a few people he knew had complained about house, “mostly about the size, but there wasn't anything I could do about that.”

Roberts ended the discussion with a declaration that got universal applause. “Let's make our yards look as good as theirs,” he said.

ABC is expected to air the Charlotte episode in October.

Mark Washburn: 704-358-5007; mwashburn@charlotteobserver.com
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