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Albemarle council tables decision on renaming Rebel Road

In a continuance from last month’s meeting, the Albemarle City Council on Monday again discussed the possibility of renaming Rebel Road.

Cross Community Church, which has purchased property on the road, reached out to council in May to ask for the road, specifically between Ridge Street and the Northeast Connector, to be changed to Salvation Way.

“We represent a Christian Church and would prefer a name which is more conducive with our non-threatening, peaceful beliefs,” Dr. Rick Walker, pastor of the church, wrote in a letter to council.

Norwood resident Linda Turner Olinger, along with her siblings, were against the specific name change to the road, which exists as a right of way to their roughly 22-acre family property. She told council during the June meeting that all affected property owners should have a say in the new name.

Her mother, Emily Turner, who worked for the city, played a key role two decades ago in getting the state to approve the Northeast Connector being built.

She said changing the name to Salvation Way “identifies it as a specific form of religion,” and would give the impression that the road exists to act as a driveway for the church rather than being an entranceway to a cul-de-sac with several properties.

Council tabled the conversation until the July meeting, asking Olinger and her family and church officials to get together to agree on a proposed name for the road.

During Monday’s meeting, Olinger told council the two sides met but the elders of the church opposed two proposed names. She asked the council to choose a neutral name not associated with any land holder.

Olinger said her family is looking to sell their property and that prospective buyers need to know the public road “is not a driveway to a church.”

She also asked the council to remind Cross Community Church to remove its signage currently blocking the road. Planning Director Kevin Robinson said he was informed that the church has agreed to move the sign to another location.

After some debate, the council wanted to give more time for the Turner property to be sold, so as to give the new property owner input in helping to determine a new road name. Council decided to table any decision until the September meeting.

“I just think it’s much cleaner that way,” Mayor Pro-Tem Martha Sue Hall said about delaying any action until September. The council approved Hall’s motion.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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