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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Chancellor's Ridge resident takes issue with neighborhood board's support of protest petition

Posted by on Wed, May 26, 2010 at 4:33 PM

Proposed location of 751 South development
  • Proposed location of 751 South development

Chancellor's Ridge resident Rob Lentchitsky, who lives on Education Avenue, sent an e-mail this afternoon to the Board of Directors in the Chancellor's Ridge neighborhood, Planning Director Steve Medlin and the Durham Board of County Commissioners stating he takes issue with the board's signing a petition protesting the proposed 751 South development, thereby representing the whole neighborhood. He asks that the board remove its signature from the petition.

From Lentchitsky's statement, "I recently learned that the protest petition filed against 751 South included the signature of the Board on behalf of the common areas near the town homes. I cannot put it more succinctly than this: This is unacceptable. While I understand that certain members of our community are very staunch opponents of this development, it is not the job of the Board to take on their cause - especially without consulting the rest of the residents."

These concerns seem to echo previous issues some Chancellor's Ridge residents raised the last time members of the South Durham community signed a protest petition to stave off the proposed 751 South development near the neighborhood. At that time, there also was concern over whether the board could sign as the owner of those common areas in the development.

The petition is an attempt by residents near a large tract of land off N.C. 751 to make it more difficult for Southern Durham Development to build a controversial community there, where retail space, offices and as many as 1,300 homes would be built in the watershed of Jordan Lake. Many opponents of the project say this type of densely developed community would be ideal if it were located elsewhere in Durham, near public transportation and near roads and other infrastructure to support its size—not near the water reservoir and on the edge of rural Durham and Chatham counties.

Click the jump to read Lentchitsky's full complaint.

Dear Chancellor's Ridge Homeowners Association Board,

I recently learned that the protest petition filed against 751 South included the signature of the Board on behalf of the common areas near the town homes. I cannot put it more succinctly than this: This is unacceptable.

While I understand that certain members of our community are very staunch opponents of this development, it is not the job of the Board to take on their cause - especially without consulting the rest of the residents. This is doubly true in the face of previous assurances that the Board would not take a stand on an issue that is, at its heart, purely political and not at all related to the management/maintenance of Chancellor's Ridge. I sincerely hope that any time spent on this was not at the expense of any of the actual issues that need addressing.

I have read John Gunter's letter accompanying the petition, and am not convinced. Regardless of whether "90% of the association members eligible" had already signed (which is in itself debatable, since the number I heard was 19 out of 33 residences - or 58%), the Board does not represent just those signatures. Nor does it represent just the "members eligible," or just the town homes. The Board represents all 456 residences and must keep that in mind. To put the implied approval of over 1500 people on a legally binding document at the behest of fewer than 5% of the households is grossly inappropriate and a blatant abuse of power.

As for the legal specifics of acting in this situation, I cannot (nor will I attempt) to argue with CAS's lawyers.  What I will argue is that despite the appearance that the Board had a legal right to act, it had a moral obligation not to. I come back to my main point here - while I fully support the rights of the residents in the affected area to express their opinion, the Board overstepped its bounds by parroting that opinion while claiming to speak on behalf of the rest of us.

With all that in mind, I would like to officially request that the Board remove its signature from the petition.

Thank you for your time,
Rob Lentchitsky
Education Ave

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