Local News

NC Community Has No Traffic Laws

Posted May 13, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Imagine what it would be like to live in a community where you and your neighbors could speed, race, drive without a license or even drive drunk, and it was all perfectly legal. Such a place exists around Lake Royale in Franklin County.

Many of the 5,000 homeowners in that area say they are frightened at the prospect of a tragedy waiting to happen, and they live with it every day. At the entrance to the area there is a speed bump. On one side, traffic laws prevail, but once you've entered Lake Royale, you can do anything you want on the 62 miles of roadway inside. Mike Cayton says there have been some bad accidents in the community, and he expects to see more.

Lake Royale is usually a quiet resort community where some live year-round and others come only in the summer. Many of those who stay all year say the area has now become home to drunk drivers and speeders. Some, they say, see no need to stop at stop signs, and there is no law that says they must.

If the residents want traffic laws, they must go through state legislature. Representative Billy Creech (R-Franklin County) is currently holding a bill in the rules committee. He says a majority of the community's residents must approve such an action before it becomes law.

Property owner Dick Maryman says the problem with that is, of the 5,000 residents, 4,000 are rarely there. He says it's impossible to get everyone together.

Some residents are frustrated and confused by what they call political power-plays on the part of their representatives. Cayton said he knows Creech had several Lake Royale residents who oppose implementing traffic laws working on his most recent re-election campaign.

Creech denies that there has been any bias on his part.

Creech has twice voted to change similar laws in other communities, but he continues to vote "no" on Lake Royale's issue.

The community does have a police force and community patrols, but authorities have no power to charge traffic offenders. The area could get regular city enforcement if residents choose to incorporate.

Many residents are concerned that the problem will only worsen. There are 60 new homes built in the gated community each year.