N.C. homebuilders' lobby to citizens: Stop your (legal) bitching | News
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Monday, March 16, 2015

N.C. homebuilders' lobby to citizens: Stop your (legal) bitching

Posted by on Mon, Mar 16, 2015 at 11:10 AM

Ye doth protest too much, sayeth the state’s homebuilders’ lobby. Spurred by the powerful special interest group, several legislators are trying to revoke North Carolina citizens’ right to file a protest petition, a legal mechanism used to block unwanted developments.

Now three Democratic senators from the Triangle have sponsored compromise legislation, Senate Bill 285.

Sens. Mike Woodard, of Durham, Valerie Foushee of Orange and Chatham counties; and Floyd McKissick Jr., of Durham filed the bill last Thursday. If passed, it would allow citizens to retain the right—a nearly 100-year-old right—to file a protest petition.

However, the bill would increase the required percentage of property owners filing a petition—those within 100 feet of the land to be rezoned—from 5 percent to 15 percent. Two-thirds of a city council would have to approve such a petition, down from three-fourths.

The anti-protest petition legislation, House Bill 201, dismantles the process altogether. It was referred to the Local Government committee.

Its main sponsors are Republicans Paul Stam of Wake County, whose usually on the wrong side of everything, and John Fraley of Iredell. He’s in the home textile business, so development is in his best interest.

Two Democrats are also primary sponsors: Ken Goodman from Richmond County, who owns a furniture business, and Darren Jackson of Wake County, an attorney whose specialty includes residential real estate. That explains it.

Raleigh residents recently filed a protest petition against a proposed Publix grocery store. The developer dropped the project.

In Durham, residents also filed a protest petition against 751 South—the developer even tried some legal maneuvers to invalidate it. Ultimately, the protest petition was declared valid, but the rezoning was passed.

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