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Commissioners Approve River Road Move

By Catherine M. Welch

Wilmington, NC – New Hanover County Commissioners Monday night voted unanimously to modify plans so a stretch of River Road can be moved farther away from the Cape Fear River.

Developer Newland Communities wants to move the road to make way for a massive riverfront community.

Plans approved in 1999 don't bump out the road as far as the 2006 plan. And opponents say they want River Road somewhere between the two plans, where the developer plans to put a connector road. Newland's Jay Smith says the environment is too sensitive for anything more than a connector road.

We can construct it very lightly in a 20-foot design and let it roll up and down the dunes as best possible without any disturbance to them. It doesn't have to have curb and gutter, it won't be a barrier to the movement of wildlife throughout the tract for the corridor so they can get from the ridges down to feed at the river.

Silva Terra resident John Deputy says the collector road planned for where he wants River Road will have a similar environmental impact.

Deputy says residents are now focusing their battle on the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

Contrary to statements in there that Mr. Smith can start his development tomorrow based on the '99 plan, even the 99 realignment has not been approved by the DOT. The current realignment has not been approved by the DOT. So he has to get by the DOT first.

Smith says he now wants to talk with residents about how to best buffer them from River Road traffic noise.