CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A new development set to transform more than 60,000 acres of wooded land in the University area to new apartments and a Topgolf is an idea not up to par to some residents in the area.
"It shouldn't be in my neighborhood at all, it shouldn't be in anybody's neighborhood," said Ayman Mihiar, who lives near the proposed site on Mallard Creek Church Road.
A petition to block Topgolf from putting it's second Charlotte location in the University area has garnered more than 500 signatures.
"The amount of noise generated from Topgolf is unbelievable," said Darrin Rankin. "It just doesn't need to be in a residential area, they are open to 1 a.m. or 2 a.m."
However, noise and traffic aren't the only reason why opposition for Topgolf is on the upswing.
"It's just a reminder of our past," said Rankin as walked through the Mallard Creek Presbyterian Church Cemetery a few feet from the proposed development.
"I think it's disrespectful, I think it's disheartening," said Rankin. "You would think there would be more thought put into any type of facility, redeveloping this land or rezoning this land for any use knowing that there's a slave cemetery here."
Faded concrete markers dating back to the 19th century can be seen in the cemetery. A brick wall enclosure was built in 2006.
However, it if the plots you don't see that concerns Rankin.
"There so many people buried and their graves are simply unmarked," he said.
According to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission, slaves are buried in the eastern portion of the cemetery. However, it is hard to tell how many and if the cemetery extends beyond the wall since records were not kept on slave burials.
"There's just no dignity, no dignity," said Rankin. "Having family from Wilson, N.C., many of my relatives could've been in the Charlotte area and they could be buried in this cemetery so I find it very personal, it's a very personal experience for me."
Residents say this is one of many reasons why this project should be scrapped.
"It was heartbreaking because this has to be respected, they need to unearth and find the rest of the cemetery, how far does it go," said Mihiar.
University City Partners tells NBC Charlotte a road is being constructed as close as 35 feet from the cemetery.
Top Golf will occupy the property nearby. A spokesperson for TopGolf said in a statement, "Charlotte is a vibrant, fast-growing city, and we are excited about our potential to grow here and create 500 additional jobs. Being a good neighbor and community member is a top priority."
For Rankin however, being a good neighbor means not disturbing those on the land first.
"We obviously want to preserve the area around the cemetery, but we are open to development. We just think it's the wrong location for TopGolf," he said.
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