Charlotte council votes to move forward with I-77 noise walls

by: Scott Wickersham Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

Plans for a towering noise wall in Uptown are moving forward despite the opposition of many city leaders and the majority of people who voted on it.

People who live along Interstate 277 in Fourth Ward voted on the noise wall and most of them voted against it.

But the way the North Carolina Department of Transportation counts the votes has home and business owners threatening a lawsuit to stop the wall.

Jim Harrill's insurance company is just 20 feet from the proposed wall but because he is a commercial operation, he didn't even get a vote.

He said he was floored when he found out the outcome of the vote.

Like many, he's also shocked by the voting process.
 
The NCDOT mailed 86 ballots using a weighted system that gives those closest to the wall more votes.
 
If more than half voted no then the wall would’ve been stopped.
 
Every owner next to the wall voted no boosting the total votes to 74 against it. There were 27 votes that approved the wall.
 
But the state considered all non-returned ballots as a "Yes" and 36 ballots were not returned so by their count the "Yes" vote was the majority with 85 votes.
 
Mayor pro-tem Michael Barnes said Monday night the City Council only voted on how the wall should appear if it were built but city leaders are now working to prevent it from going up.
 
"We still have time. The walls haven't gone up yet. I’m hoping NCDOT and other leadership in Raleigh will find a way to get this resolved," Barnes said.
 
Some Fourth Ward land owners said they're meeting with an attorney Wednesday to discuss a lawsuit.

Channel 9 called NCDOT engineers and media representatives but did not hear back.

A second proposed stretch of noise wall on I-277 near Alpha Mill did get enough "No" votes to stop the wall there.

Read our past coverage:

Nov. 11:  Charlotte city leaders to study noise barriers along I-77

Dec. 17:  Noise walls proposed along I-77 near uptown Charlotte

Feb. 5:  Charlotte neighbors to decide on noise barrier on I-277