'I'm not pleased': NC to buy Chatham Co. homes, businesses to make way for automaker, widen roads

Akilah Davis Image
Tuesday, August 23, 2022
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NCDOT is using eminent domain to buy five businesses and 27 homes in Merry Oaks community along Old Highway US1 in Chatham County to make room for automaker, widen the highway.

MERRY OAKS, N.C. (WTVD) -- Six generations of Kay Hinsley's family have lived in Merry Oaks along Old U.S. 1 Highway on a six acre property. She recalls playing in the front yard as a little girl, but those memories will fade once the trees are removed.

"A lot of these people are losing their businesses. A lot are losing their homes," said Hinsley. "You're here. You're comfortable. It's a quiet place."

The state is using eminent domain to buy five businesses and 27 homes in this community which will make way for Vietnamese automaker Vinfast. Merry Oaks Baptist Church will be torn down too. The project requires widening of roads in this area which means Hinsley will lose much of her front yard. Outside of traffic, she has one major concern.

"I'm not please about it. I wish the efforts had been put in to bring in an American industry and not an industry from another country," said Hinsley. "The current U.S. Highway 1 out here will be ripped up to the ground because they say the structure underneath isn't able to handle the volume of traffic."

The Vinfast site is slated to be a little more than 2,150 acres and will add about 7,500 jobs to the local economy. According to NCDOT, this is going to be a two-phase project. Phase one is slated to begin in January of 2023.

Residents like Hinsley say last week she was informed this project would run right through her front yard.

"There's really been no community input as to whether there were alternatives that would have saved some of the homes that'll be taken," she said.