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Blinded by construction lights until 4 a.m., Belmont residents have had enough

"My husband just got home from the hospital and he was trying to sleep and it was shining right in his face, like right in his face in the bed."

BELMONT, N.C. — Neighbors in one Gaston County neighborhood said they are fed up with a construction project happening just feet away from their homes. They told WCNC Charlotte it’s not the construction itself that has them upset, but that the construction has continued into the early morning hours, often with bright lights that illuminate their bedrooms all night.

You may know the project. In 2019, city leaders approved a new 600,000 sq. ft. office park at the former Acme Mill site, located off Woodlawn Street, just northwest of Belmont Abbey College.

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At the time, city leaders hoped the development of the 40-acre site would bring anywhere from 250 to 350 new jobs. But the road to completion has been a rough one for the dozens of neighbors whose backyards sit just feet from the site.

“I’m used to the loudness and the dirt, that’s part of construction,” said Debbie McCalin, who has lived on Suggs Street in Belmont for 25 years.

She said this past year she’s gotten used to the sights and sounds of heavy machinery. But said this past week is when she and other neighbors believe the trouble began.

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“From maybe 4 a.m. until midnight the same night,” she said, describing how the crews began not only working into the wee hours of the night but were also shining bright lights into directly into their homes.

“And my husband just got home from the hospital and he was trying to sleep and it was shining right in his face, like right in his face in the bed,” she said, “It was very frustrating.”

Other neighbors like Mark Humphries documented it all, taking late night cell phone videos of the lights and plumes of dust and dirt, which he says covers his house and cars and at times prevents his kids from playing outside.

“It’s ridiculous,” he says in the video.

McCalin said the dust is so frequent, she’s given up on it. “When it is a windy day, you’ll see like a dust cloud, we’ve seen like little red tornado looking wind funnels I guess you would call them, and you would just see it coming toward the house and the cars,” she said.

Belmont City Manager Adrian Miller says the construction company was issued a violation for working after hours, which according to the city’s ordinance prohibits construction before 7 a.m. and after 8:00 p.m.

“We also informed NCDOT regarding mud and debris on the streets since these are NCDOT streets and NCDEQ regarding dust in the air and blowing onto nearby properties,” Miller said in an email to WCNC.

But neighbors say so far the fines, haven’t deterred the late night construction from continuing.

Humphries said Thursday night it was quiet, until a few minutes after 2 a.m.

WCNC also reached out to the company overseeing the project. They have not responded.

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Contact Ashley Daley at adaley@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.