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Raleigh Residents Try to Save 11 Special Acres

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RALEIGH — Some Raleigh residents want the city to save 11 acres of land near Lake Johnson. The property owners are ready to sell, and developers are eager to buy.

The residents helped defeat a zoning request that would have allowed high-density apartments to be built on Lake Johnson.

But they think it is only a matter of time before another developer proposes another big project. They want the city to step in and protect the land.

Lake Johnson Park is a refuge for Raleigh residents who want a safe, tranquil place to run, ride and walk. Meg Perry walks the three-mile nature trail with her dad.

"When I grow up I want to bring my kids here and say, "This is Lake Johnson. Isn't it beautiful?' But I don't know if it's still going to be beautiful," she says.

Nearby Lake Dam Road is as busy as the park is peaceful.

Two-thousand new apartments have been built in the last 18 months. Now developers are eyeing 11.5 acres on Lake Dam Road, adjacent to Lake Johnson.

A recent plan to build apartments on the property fell through. The land belongs to several families who are willing to sell. People who live nearby hope the city will make the landowners an offer.

"This is a very unusual piece of property," says resident Don Badger. "It's the only woodlands park in Raleigh. And we'd like to see as much of that character preserved as possible."

"It's a lot different going out riding your bike on streets or sidewalks versus riding it on the greenway in a nice setting," says city council member Benson Kirkman.

Kirkman worked on the master plan for Lake Johnson. He suggests the city purchase the land through a public-private partnership.

"It's expensive land. Any land in Raleigh is expensive, but it's a matter of we've got a small window of opportunity and we need to take it," Kirkman says.

Residents have assembled information they will present to the city council at this week's meeting. They hope the city will move quickly before another developer pitches another project for this property.


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