Road named for Henry Dingus will live on
Inaction by the Haywood County Board of Commissioners means the road named Henry Dingus Way, a main route into the Campbell Woods subdivision and named for its developer, will be unchanged.
For a third time since May, delegates from the homeowners association asked the county commissioners for permission to change the road name to Ridgeway Trail, a name they say more accurately reflects the natural surroundings. The group followed the process outlined in the county ordinance — one that has routinely lead to renamed roads for the past 20 years. Questions arose, however, when some in the Maggie Valley community and on the board of commissioners questioned the practice of changing road names of historical significance in the county.
Tom Benoit, president of the Campbell Woods homeowners association, said their research showed Dingus was a developer, not a pioneer, whose heirs no longer lived in the area, do not own occupied dwellings in the development, and who don’t even pay association dues under an agreement whereby the neighborhood assumed responsibility for badly maintained infrastructure in the development. The majority of votes against the name change came from Dingus heirs.
Commissioner Kirk Kirkpatrick requested additional information at a previous meeting, which Kathy Hoglen with the addressing office provided Monday night. The county ordinance states roads can be considered by the commissioners to be renamed as long as 65 percent of persons owning property adjacent to the road agree to the change.
Past practice has given each property owner a single vote, regardless of the number of land parcels owned. Kirkpatrick asked how the percentage would change if a person had multiple votes, depending on the number of land parcels owned.
Hoglen told the board Monday the percentage of those supporting the change would drop from 72 percent using the traditional method, to 59 percent if the other counting method was used. There are 36 total property owners along the road. Of that, 26 voted for the change, five voted against, four provided no response and 1 new owner didn’t vote. Commissioner Kevin Ensley is the new property owners and is staying out of the fray.
After considering the new information and indicating a more clear process needs to be included in the ordinance going forward, Kirkpatrick made a motion to allow the road to be renamed.
“I’m having a difficult time with it,” he admitted. “I want to respect the people who requested this, but I also want to respect the people who named the road.”
Commission Chairman Mark Swanger twice asked for a second to the motion. When there was none, the issue died.
Following the meeting, Swanger said the road addressing ordinance provision asking for a a petition signed by 65 percent of the owners is simply a mechanism to bring the issue before the board of commissioners.
“It’s not a guaranteed outcome, otherwise, it would’t come before the board,” Swanger said. “The process guarantees a fair hearing and that happened — three times.”
Commissioner Bill Upton said he didn’t favor the road name change because he saw no compelling reason for a name change and because of its historical significance in the county, a view shared by Commissioner Michael Sorrells.
“In Maggie Valley, Jonathan Creek and Waynesville, they know Henry Dingus. He is well thought of in this area,” Sorrells said of the now deceased developer.
Sorrells said Dingus purchased the land he develop from his family, which was “thrilled he kept Campbell Woods in the name,” and glad to have an entrance road named in Dingus' honor. “I have a problem with changing that name.”
Benoit said there are hard feelings toward town and county leaders who spoke out on the matter and are defying the will of the majority.
“It seems there was a pre-determined agenda to support the developer, despite the wishes of the residents in the Campbell Woods community,” Benoit said in an email after the meeting. “We played by the rules, did they?”
Maggie Valley Planning Board members requested an ordinance to deal with road names within the town’s jurisdiction, something the town council rejected, but not before Mayor Ron DeSimone spoke out on the importance of retaining road names involving pioneers and those of historical significance in the community.
“The residents will live with the name of our road,” Benoit wrote. “But the damage that the county leaders and Maggie Valley leaders have caused will live on for a long, long time.”