City of Mt. Holly planning park expansion at expense of retired couple’s home

Nation and World News

MOUNT HOLLY, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) — Park expansions, greenways, and creek crossings could all be built in Mount Holly, but not without a cost.

It would cost the City of Mount Holly more than $13 million, but it would also cost one retired couple 35 years worth of memories. A stretch of homes on East Catawba Avenue would be torn down to expand a portion of Veterans Park.

Tina and Jeff Starnes got married in April of 1986 and by May, they moved into their home on East Catawba Avenue.

“We raised three kids here. You know, this is where everybody comes for their holiday meals and stuff,” Jeff Starnes said.

The City of Mount Holly reached out to the Starnes in the Fall of 2019, when the Park Bond plans were just getting started.

“We told them, we were not interested in selling at all, we had no interest in it, so we’d never, never discussed moving or any of that stuff,” Jeff said.

Close to a year later, the city made them an offer for their home based on the tax value rather than the market value. According to Zillow, the tax value of the Starnes’ home is far less than the current market value.

“We’re for parks in the city and the greenways, all the greenways. And, you know, we really enjoy it. We’ve taken part in the process and have gone to the planning meetings and stuff like that. We just never dreamed that they would do number one, you know, take our house from us,” Jeff said.

But nothing is for sure yet, it’s all based off of the outcome of the Park Bond on the November Ballot. The Mount Holly community has the power to vote yes or no, which would increase property taxes by about seven percent.

“Looking like a lot of the older people like us are not wanting higher taxes,” Tina Starnes said.

So although the Starnes want Mount Holly to become a better city to live in, they don’t want it to be at their expense. Jeff gave the city a number he would feel comfortable selling his home for, but still hasn’t gotten a response.

“We have roots here, I have trees that are as old when my kids brought home from Earth Day. We have our pets buried in the backyard.”

If the Park Bond does pass, five projects will be completed throughout Mount Holly, including new creek crossings, trails, and the expansion of Veterans Park.

For more information on the Bond, visit this link.

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