PENDER COUNTY -- In Pender County the population is expected to grow by 50 percent over the next decade. Much of that growth is happening in the county's largest community, unincorporated Hampstead. The greater Hampstead homeowners association has created a list of what needs to be done in order to accommodate that growth. Hampstead resident Al Freimark said, "We have so many needs and they've been put off and put off and put off." Freimark has called Hampstead home for the past 17 years. He believes the top priority for the area is to widen county club road at the intersection of Highway 17. Freimark said, "Here we go right now, here's a guy who wants to go left and I want to go straight and all of these cars are backed up. This is what it's like at 1:30 in the afternoon. Imagine what its like at 7:30 in the morning." The new Topsail High School is at the end of the road and will open in December -- no doubt adding to the traffic problem. County leaders plan to have more lanes in place before next year. Another important issue to Hampstead residents is establishing the overlay zoning district along Highway 17. Pender County Commissioner David Williams said, "The characteristics in Hampstead are becoming much more urban than say in other parts of the county, and it's not a one size fits all when it comes to zoning." Freimark said, "We chose to live here and it's a great area, but you have to protect it if you believe in it." A 13-person panel is currently working on putting together their ideas for what Hampstead should look like. Finally, Freimark says, a bypass needs to be built around Hampstead to divert traffic from Highway 17. The idea has been discussed for 14 years, with little progress. Freimark worries that the growth of the area will outpace the actual construction. "We'll be chasing the caboose for the rest of our lives, we are behind the 8-ball now, we are behind the curve," Freimark said. DOT officials say what's holding up the $152 million project, is a lack of money from the state. Allen Pope with the Department of Transportation said, "The longer the project goes without funding, the longer it sits on the shelf. There's a breakdown somewhere between our area and Raleigh. We're not being heard when it comes to legislatures and the governors office and the secretary of transportation." There have been some environmental impact studies done for the Hampstead bypass project. DOT officials expect actual construction to start in 2015, for possible completion by 2020. Other requests that made the residents' list include more libraries, and more bike and walking trails.
- Video Central
- About WWAY