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Changes proposed for greenway route

Original plan could cause flood levels to rise a foot or more in a storm, planner says.

By Melinda Johnston
Special correspondent

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A plan for a controversial piece of Matthews Four Mile Creek Greenway needs to be reworked to avoid the threat of floods, according to the Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department.

Mecklenburg park planner Julie Clark presented Matthews commissioners with a set of proposed changes to the greenway alignment on Monday.

At issue is the same stretch of greenway that was controversial among Matthews Estates residents, who complained it would destroy their privacy and compromise safety by coming too close to their backyards.

Matthews commissioners and staff worked for months to find a compromise.

Clark said her department recently discovered that that original plan for the route could cause flood levels to rise a foot or more in a big storm.

“We have gone over and over this, trying to find a solution that works. We know private property, environmental and economic issues are important. We had to look at all of those issues … ,” said Clark.

Commissioners didn't vote on the proposed changes, but asked Park and Recreation staff to create more detailed, three-dimensional models so they can better understand the changes.

Matthews Estates resident Brett Christoffersen says he sees controversy happening all over again.

“I didn't hear about (it) until I walked out behind my house and saw orange spots on some of the trees,” he said.

Christoffersen maintains the new routing would destroy most of the natural growth the greenway is supposed to help people enjoy.

Clark says the flood threat would require a bridge planned to span Four Mile Creek to be constructed 4 to 6 feet above the creek.

She cautioned that a bridge that high may infringe on the adjacent property owners, since visitors on the greenway could see over fences and into yards.

The proposed solution is to reroute the greenway to the other side of the creek and have a longer bridge that runs along the edge of the creek instead of crossing it.

Commissioner Bill Dixon says that's not acceptable.

“I am very disappointed. We worked diligently on this for three years with the property owners and now you want to change it at the 11th hour. This created a lot of ill feelings toward the town. We finally worked something out that the neighbors all agreed to, and now you say it won't work,” said Dixon.

Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation's Jay Higginbotham says the new route is actually farther from backyards than the original one and won't clear more trees, just in a different location.

Construction is set to start in October if an acceptable alternative is found.

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