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By David Leone
WAKE FOREST — Over the river and through the woods…
The town of Wake Forest’s newest 2.5-mile greenway trail project is right out of a nursery tale. It winds through wooded areas, goes under roads and crosses a number of creeks and wetlands.
But for seven Heritage South residents living on Orange Cosmos Avenue and Marshall Farm Street, it hits a little too close to home. The tail end of the greenway crosses a creek just southwest of their homes, bringing the future path within sight of their back doors.
“We were never told that anything could be built on the property behind our house,” Jennifer Turco said May 30 during a public meeting at Hope Lutheran Church. “We were told nothing could be built there except across the creek, which is developable land. We have a gorgeous lot and we don’t see a single house within 270 degrees and it commanded a price worthy of that view.”
“It’s spectacular,” she continued. “The view had a huge impact on the value. Our neighbors have the same view and it’s why all of us bought there. And it’s why they got the prices they got.”
Their issues are twofold. One, none were aware that the original landowner, Andy Ammons, had offered up easements behind their homes along a sewer line so a greenway path could eventually be built. When they bought their homes, that information was not shared, they said.
And, because the Heritage homeowners association doesn’t allow tall fences to be built, they fear that people will be able to see right into their yards and homes.
The homeowners are holding out hope that the landowner on the south side of the creek, also Ammons, will agree to allow the greenway to continue to run along that side until it can connect up with the future stub out of Marshall Farm Street.
There was no evidence that town staff would make that concession. But consulting engineer Jason Pace of Kimley Horn and Associates said that if the path runs behind their homes, such a dense tree buffer will be planted, in some places you won’t see through to the trail. But it won’t block the view always, he admitted.
Town commissioners previously agreed to the greenway, which is tentatively being called CMAQ (named for the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program grant that pays for $2.7 million of the $3.4 million project).
As designed, the new the trail would begin at the Smith Creek Soccer Center, run under Rogers Road, to the east of Heritage middle and elementary schools, cross the creek, go around Heritage High, cross Forestville Road and connect to existing greenways in Heritage South.
One spur would connect the trail to Thornrose, another would cross Dunn Creek to connect to Heritage Garden Street. Another side trail would connect to the trails designed and built by Heritage High School students. A side path would connect up to the sports fields on Forestville Road as well.
Except for the people on Orange Cosmos Avenue, the vast majority of people commenting on the greenway are pleased with its design, officials said.
Project construction is expected to begin in 2014 and be completed by spring of 2015.