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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Most drivers in Mecklenburg County can't wait for the last leg of Interstate 485 to be finished.

The final link in the bypass encircling Charlotte has taken a generation and has been the subject of much lobbying by the Mecklenburg delegation and a much ballyhooed announcement by Gov. Beverly Perdue.

But one family has concerns over the final route.

Jay Mack Oehler, 81, has lived off the road named for his family -- Johnston Oehler Road near Mallard Creek Park -- for his whole life. He's one of the last remaining farmers, raising cows off the Mecklenburg land increasingly gobbled up for tract housing and strip malls.

He's had 20 years to prepare for I-485. But he says when the Department of Transportation put out stakes, they came too close for comfort to his grandson's house, cutting just behind his fence and dog pens and cutting off access for his cows to the lower pasture.

There's been cows on this hill ever since I can remember, said Oehler, feeding day-old bread by the truckload to cows he has named one by one.

I name all mine. That's Monroe Fluff, Jr. This is Horny Red, he said, reaching out a hand and pushing back the bovine head with a gentle palm between the cow's eyes.

Oehler raises cows the way some retirees play golf. He knows the county needs I-485 but he has concerns about its placement.

I'm not opposed to 485. They need it. I know that. But I don't think moving it over and not telling nobody is exactly the right thing to do, he says while walking through a pasture to point out the bright yellow stakes put out by the DOT to mark the right-of-way.

Oehler has given land to his children and their children to build homes side-by-side on Jimmy Oehler Road. He says it's for their sake as one of the yellow stakes sits a few dozen feet behind his grandson's home.

I'm not real young. It don't make that big a difference to me. But he's going to be here a good while we hope, said Oehler.

A DOT engineer in Raleigh says the right-of-way lines have not changed. The project engineer was unavailable for comment.

But Oehler says the property stakes marking the edge of the state's right-of-way are much closer than he was first told. Oehler says he first saw the stakes last year and became more concerned after a community meeting last month.

NewsChannel 36 has placed phone calls to Raleigh to speak to engineers familiar with the I-485 route. When the DOT responds, we'll pass along that information.

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