Some Ahwatukee residents refuse to leave homes despite demolition beginning

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(Source: KPHO/KTVK) (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
(Source: KPHO/KTVK) (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
(Source: KPHO/KTVK) (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
(Source: KPHO/KTVK) (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

Crews began demolishing the first of hundreds of Ahwatukee Foothills homes in the path of the new South Mountain Freeway Thursday morning.

There were a lot of mixed emotions among the residents near 24th Street and Pecos.

Most had no choice but to leave, but despite the arrival of bulldozers, a few homeowners say they still aren't moving.

For more than 20 years, the Arizona Department of Transportation has been acquiring the right of way for the South Mountain Freeway, including homes and businesses that could be in the way.

[READ: ADOT begins demolishing vacant properties for Loop 202 expansion]

Some people who live in these neighborhoods have repeatedly tried to stop the project from going forward.

Nearly 200 vacant properties currently owned by the state will be cleared from the area in advance of freeway construction, which is scheduled to start next summer.

Most homeowners were handed a chunk of money to move, but others say it's an offer they're not willing to accept.

"It's a sad day for a lot of people, especially those who are losing their homes, but for the overall progress, you know traffic flow, in the long run it will be a good thing," said Kerry Alter, who lives nearby. "I think it will relieve traffic on Chandler Boulevard and Ray Road and all throughout Phoenix."

"They're paving paradise to put in a truck bypass," said Scott Herrmann, who has lived in the area for 23 years. "Noise pollution, air pollution, light pollution will all be a result of this South Mountain Freeway. That's why I hope the people at PARC (Protecting Arizona's Resources and Children) get this stopped as soon as possible, but, obviously, the bullies are using bulldozers."

There is still an ongoing legal battle going on, but not everyone understands why residents are fighting the project.

"A builder can't sell  to them without giving them the public report and it has anything that would impact their ownership such as flight paths, future freeways," said Michal Joyner, who said she worked for the developer in the 1980's when many of the homes in the area were built. She also said some properties were sold at a discount.

"They knew it when they bought it and I just don't want to have to pay for these lawsuits," Joyner said.

"The 202 Loop was scheduled to go in since 1985, it was approved," said attorney Adam Buck with the Frutkin Law Firm, who is not involved in this case. "The seller should have been disclosing these things then it's on the part of the buyer to investigate further."

"I didn't ask to be put in this position," said Ahwatukee homeowner Sherry Woodring.

Copyright 2015 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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