Controversy over Florida St. extension project in Greensboro

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Debate has formed around the City of Greensboro's plan to extend Florida Street for about a half mile to connect Lee Street to McConnell Road. The stretch would go partly through N.C. A&T University's Farm in East Greensboro.

Both agricultural leaders at the farm and neighbors who live near the projected road, voiced strong opposition to the connector road in a meeting at A&T Friday morning. The City Manager's office also had representatives on hand to discuss the potential impact of the road.

Sharon Hightower and many of her neighbors in the College Forest neighborhood call the project "The Road to Nowhere."

"We are concerned about not only the road, the noise, the pollution and the fact that it makes no sense. But, eventually if they want to go to four lanes where you think they're gonna come? This way," Hightower indicated toward her backyard.

N.C. A&T University Chancellor Harold Martin said the project would require about three acres of University farm land. While the city has chosen the plan that would have the least impact on the farm, they say, it could still lead to a reduction in pasture land and herd sizes.

"It was critical in my mind to say to the City Council, 'time out.' Not your responsibility to formulate these decisions on behalf of our University," Dr. Martin emphasized.

He added, while he's a proponent of progress and growth in East Greensboro, he's not sure the Florida Street Extension project is the solution.

City leaders say plans for connecting Lee to McConnell have been on the books since 1967.

They've recently secured the required $3.2 million is funding for the road thanks to federal dollars and transportation bond money.

"The council is talking a great deal about economic development and especially economic development in East Greensboro," said Denise Turner-Roth with the City Manager's Office

She said this stretch of road could alleviate traffic in the future and help with economic growth. Turner-Roth also said this area is not considered a "pressure point" for traffic congestion.

"Is this connecting road the answer to driving that expansion? I'm not convinced at this moment," Dr. Martin concluded during an interview with FOX8.

"A&T has nothing to gain and much to lose to start on this slippery slope of turning Aggie Farm into a petting zoo," said one community speaker at the meeting Friday.

"The City Council wants to hear what A&T's Board of Trustees thinks about the road," Turner-Roth said. Council, she added, is not looking to pick a fight with the University.