UPDATE, 10 p.m., May 24: Commissioners decided at a meeting Monday night they no longer needed to hold a closed session on the Board of Adjustment appeal, since Rooney withdrew it. Attorneys representing the developer had sent a memo to the Board of Commissioners requesting the public hearing be held on the latest possible date, June 24. Commissioners couldn't hold the hearing the night of June 24, and initially appeared to settle on June 23 with much protest from Commissioner Becky Heron. However, the board didn't take a final vote and said it would decide the morning of May 25, when they already are scheduled to meet for a budget work session.
A group of residents in South Durham neighborhoods bordering a proposed mixed-use development filed a protest petition (PDF) Monday afternoon that would make it harder for the developer to get the land rezoned to suit its controversial development plans. (development documents)
The petition against the rezoning of 167 acres to be developed into 751 South was filed by Kim Preslar, a resident in the Chancellor's Ridge subdivision. It includes a list of 19 signatures of what the petitioners deemed, with the help of the planning department, to be 33 people who were eligible to sign the document, according to a summary provided by the petitioners. The county's portion of the local ordinance (URL, see 3.5.13) governing the use of protest petitions requires that all owners of 20 percent of eligible properties be included.
If the petition is found to be valid, it would require a supermajority of the Board of County Commissioners (at least 4 of 5 commissioners' support) to approve the developer's request to rezone the land. In past issues dealing with the controversial development, the board's vote has been spit 3-2, with commissioners Becky Heron and Ellen Reckhow strongly opposed, so it would prove difficult for developers to turn one of these votes.
As of this afternoon, a public hearing and rezoning vote is scheduled for June 1. An appeal on that public hearing and the proposed date was filed last week for hearing by the Board of Adjustment. Because an appeal was filed, the date of the public hearing could have been pushed until after the Board of Adjustment resolved the appeal.
But Commissioner Michael Page, chairman of the board, said earlier today that the commissioners were not necessarily waiting until the Board of Adjustment ruled in order to hold the public hearing. The Board of Commissioners will meet in closed session tonight to discuss whether to continue to hold the hearing June 1, or postpone because of the appeal. Commissioners could vote tonight on whether to keep June 1, or even postpone to later in June, which the development company, Southern Durham Development, might have indicated earlier that they found favorable.
If you can't make it to the legislature, you can listen to the proceedings online.
Read the Indy's coverage of the issue and the bill which would effectively kill local governments' ability to build their own broadband networks.
Last week, it appeared that a public hearing for June 1 on the controversial 751 South development would be postponed until the Board of Adjustment heard an appeal in the matter. (This came from Planning Director Steve Medlin.)
This might not be the case.
Durham's Board of County Commissioners will discuss the issue in a closed session tonight, and could decide to hold the public hearing on June 1, despite an appeal on the matter, said Durham County Commissioner Michael Page, chairman of the board.
"The board scheduled this public hearing, so we decide whether we want to hold it," Page said Monday. To make that decision, commissioners have to explore the weight of an appeal to the Durham Board of Adjustment filed last week by South Durham resident Melissa Rooney. In her appeal, she challenges the board's decision to hold the meeting June 1, when she had asked for what she thought would be a longer deferral.
The proposed June 1 public hearing is on the rezoning of 167 acres in South Durham off N.C. 751. The rezoning would allow Southern Durham Development and its partners to move forward with a large development of as many as 1,300 residential spaces, as well as office and retail space.
The project has hit several snags and much opposition over the past two years, including lawsuits against Durham County.
Shea Neville, the third-place finisher in the recent election for school board district 4B, announced Thursday he's supporting candidate Natalie Beyer when the county holds a runoff for the seat on June 22.
Beyer is facing two-term incumbent school board member Steve Martin. Beyer requested the runoff on May 5, the day after the school board elections, in which Martin earned just under 37 percent of the votes and Beyer finished with 34 percent. In order to win the seat, one candidate must have earned "substantial plurality," or 40 percent of the vote, so Beyer had the option to request a rematch.
Neville finished third, securing 22 percent of the votes. Wayne Allsbrook finished last with 6 percent of the votes.
From Neville's statement of support for Beyer:
[Natalie] has already emerged as a dedicated champion for students and is results oriented. Natalie has proven her willingness to serve a diverse population. Natalie will be the catalyst to bring the School Board back to the community and make sure that the voices of parents, students and teachers are heard.
UPDATE: This post was updated at 3:30 p.m. with a quote from Melissa Rooney.
Melissa Rooney, a South Durham resident and opponent of the proposed 751 South development near Jordan Lake, filed an appeal (PDF) to the Board of Adjustment Wednesday morning.
The appeal means an upcoming public hearing on the controversial 751 South development is now postponed until the Board of Adjustment meets and rules on the matter, which will be in July, or even later, according to Durham Planning Director Steve Medlin.
"Until the [Board of Adjustment] renders a final decision and issues a final order, we can’t move forward," Medlin said Thursday.
According to the penalty letter, the lagoon liner had more than 100 places that needed to be patched because there were deep cuts, perforations or seam damage.
Jay Zimmerman, regional supervisor for the Aquifer Protection Section of the Division of Water Quality, told the Indy there were several factors in assessing the penalty, including the subsequent releases from leaking and broken pipes in the wastewater system.
The penalty could have been more severe—as much as $25,000 per violation per day.
UNC has 30 days to respond to the penalty. It can appeal it, pay it or ask that it be reduced.
In a letter to neighbors, associate vice chancellor Dwayne Pinkney wrote that UNC is not surprised by the penalty because DENR had advised the university it could be fined last December.
"Meanwhile, we are moving forward with a study of an integrated water system for the Bingham Facility that will treat the wastewater generated there to the level of reclaimed water, which addresses your concerns about water usage and water quality. We will continue to update DENR and Orange County on our progress, to make sure past mistakes are not repeated."
In tonight's meeting of the Durham City Council, City Manager Tom Bonfield pitched a 1.19-cent property tax increase to balance this year's budget. Under Bonfield's proposal, the budget would increase by $7.7 million (about two percent) to $353.4 million.
If the City Council adopts this budget later this summer, the increase would mean an additional $23.80 in the annual property tax bill for a $200,000 home for city-assessed taxes. (County taxes are assessed separately. County Manager Mike Ruffin will present his budget in one week on May 24).
Under Bonfield's plan, city employees, including firefighters and police officers, will not receive raises. Additionally, 15 people will be losing their jobs. Sixteen other positions that were vacant also will be eliminated, while funding for 20 other jobs has been set aside.
A public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. for Monday, June 7. The City Council will adopt its budget in its June 21 meeting.
Presente.org, in partnership with MoveOn.org, is giving away stickers protesting Arizona's recent immigration law (SB1070) that many see as an attempt to legalize racial profiling in efforts to identify, prosecute and deport residents who are in the U.S. illegally.
By signing up for Presente.org and MoveOn.org political action committee mailing lists, visitors will get a free 3.5-inch by 7.5-inch sticker (pictured above) with free shipping.