by Aaron Burns

HUNTERSVILLE -– The town planning department’s public information session at Asbury United Methodist Church was to explain the specifics of the Eastfield Road Small Area Plan. The Nov. 15 meeting was not without questions.

“They might be able to take some of the pressure off the traffic on Eastfield (Road with the plan),” resident Jay St. John said. “Eastfield is a madhouse most of the time.”

The plan will guide future land use, transportation and infrastructure investment decisions by the town, developers and property owners in the Eastfield area.

It will help the team prepare for development likely to occur following the completion of the last segment of Interstate 485 and other improvements to the surrounding road network.

Residents questioned town planners and transportation planner Bill Coxe on three proposed thoroughfare alignments, involving Hambright Road, Everette-Keith Road and a Verhoeff Drive extension.

Coxe said the small area plan, if approved, will be built in bits and pieces.

“It will take time for them to all be finished,” he said.

Huntersville Principal Planner Zac Gordon said the upside to bringing more people, businesses and homes to the area is that it stimulates the local economy, but at a cost: Traffic improvements have to be made, some of which – if the proposals are accepted – could lead to homeowners losing their homes to the government to complete the roads as they were designed.

Gordon reiterated Coxe’s point that the plans are a long-term process.

“Funding, frankly, is not yet available for any of the roads we talked about. That’s one of the real challenges,” Gordon said. “If you look at the roads (the Mecklenburg United Metropolitan Planning Organization) has in its 2035 Long Range Transportation Plan, none of these roads are on that plan. It’s a long plan and the money is scarce.”

He said the purpose of the meeting was to simply inform residents of potential changes they could see as the town continues expanding.

“This is a prime area for development,” Gordon said. “We’re doing this plan because of what we see coming. What we want to do is get ahead of the curve and put together a blueprint for how this area will grow over time.”

Huntersville’s planners will hold another public information session Jan. 17.