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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Protest petitions closer to becoming outlawed

Posted by on Wed, Mar 25, 2015 at 8:24 AM

North Carolina citizens are closer to losing another right, after the House voted Tuesday to eliminate protest petitions.

The tally on House Bill 201 was 81–31. However, four Wake County Republicans voting against the measure: Marilyn Avila, Nelson Dollar, Chris Malone and Gary Pendleton.  All but one local Democrat also opposed it. Darren Jackson, a Wake County Democrat and real estate attorney, co-sponsored the bill and voted for it.

Citizens can use protest petitions, a legal mechanism in place for more than 90 years, to try to block unwanted developments. Currently, 5 percent of property owners within 100 feet of a proposed rezoning can file a petition. In order to pass the rezoning, a city council must do so with three-fourths of a majority vote.

The state's powerful homebuilders lobby has long lobbied to abolish protest petitions so developers will face less opposition on land use.

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.

A final vote is expected today when the House convenes at 3 p.m. The bill will then go to the Senate.



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