PENDER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - A group of neighbors in the Arvida neighborhood of Rocky Point is desperate to get the attention of the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
They’re trying to get the state to step in and do something about their roads, which they believe are in such bad shape that it would impede the response of EMS, firefighters, police and anyone else who may need to get down their road in a hurry.
About thirty years ago, new homeowners buying into this neighborhood were told that the state would maintain these roads once a majority of the plots were built out.
“It’s always been a problem”, said Art Swain, who purchased a plot here in the early 1990s.
“When they initially started selling lots here, they were sold to the middle of the road and under the condition that they were going to maintain the road,” he said. “Once they sold the 50% of the homes in here, they no longer maintained the road. So, we as a community, mostly one of the individuals in here took it upon himself to maintain the road and it’s in the condition you see now.”
Vicki Ohanesian-Prince says the original owner who developed much of the area has died, and so while the state considers it a privately owned road it’s unclear who is ultimately responsible for it.
“In essence, we were left without anyone to come in and get our roads up to code,” said Ohanesian-Prince.
About 300 people live in over 100 homes through the neighborhood.
The road and connecting roads are more than a mile long.
Ohanesian-Prince has spent the last two years trying to figure out all the legal hoops they need to jump through to get help.
She says more than 60% of property owners have signed on agreeing to whatever easements the state will need to take over road maintenance.
Meg Hutzenbiler moved into a home they bought site unseen about one year ago after losing her previous home to an electrical fire.
“My fear is like, EMS, fire, first responders…if anybody has trouble...they’re not going to get back there in time to help anybody,” she said. “I have anxiety attacks about it. I guess it’s just a fear because we lost ours in the middle of the night while we were sleeping so, it’s just a fear and if I have a house fire here, it’s over.”
Art Swain has already experienced the heartbreak. His step-daughter died of a heart attack. He says the response time of EMS—because of the condition of the road—was less than ideal.
“My daughter passed away from a heart attack,” he said. “I attribute some of that to this road.”
“Two years ago we had a house fire back here and that house unfortunately burned down,” Ohanesian-Prince said. “I don’t know if it was due to the road, but I know that that probably slowed their response time down.”
Friday night, state Representative Carson Smith, who is also the director of Pender County’s Emergency Management Department, and several other county officials met with Ohanesian-Prince and took a drive through the neighborhood.
“Hopefully we can get an audience with somebody that can look at this as an emergency-type situation and potentially get something done. I can’t make any promises, but I think it’s certainly something we can get behind,” Smith said.
Ohanesian-Prince confirms she’s in contact with local D.O.T. representatives who are working with her on setting up a virtual meeting.