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Lawmakers back controversial Durham development

Posted June 27, 2013

— The state House voted 73-31 Thursday in favor of a bill that will force Durham to extend water and sewer lines to the 751 South project, a mixed residential and business development on the Chatham County line. 

That vote comes weeks after the Durham City Council voted 4-3 to reject the project, which has been batted about various local governments, courts and legislative bodies for years. The General Assembly narrowly rejected a similar bill last year. 

"This bill is simply about property rights," Rep. Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, said.

The city, he said, was using its power as the only large supplier of water in the area as a weapon in its battle against the development.

The House Finance Committee held a public hearing about the project earlier this week. The project has split the community between those who want to see the jobs that the development would bring and those who worry about strains the project would put on the environment and public resources like roads.

The same committee debated and voted on the bill Thursday afternoon, just before the measure moved to the House floor.

"This is not a zoning hearing," said Rep. Paul Luebke, D-Durham, who represents the area where the project would be built. He objected to lawmakers taking on local land-use decisions.

After the committee meeting, Moore acknowledged that lawmakers were tangling with a local issue, but he said it was for good reason. 

"The only time the General Assembly gets involved in a local issue is when a local government behaves in a way that the General Assembly finds to be irrational," Moore said. 

On the floor, members noted that Durham's mayor had negotiated a water deal with the developer. 

"There was a gun pointed to the mayor's head to start negotiating with the developer," Rep. Mickey Michaux, D-Durham, said.

But other members said the state should clear the way for the development. 

Backers of the project said it would create 3,000 jobs. 

"Sometimes common sense has to prevail," said Rep. Mike Stone, R-Lee. 

Because the measure includes annexation provisions, the House must vote a second time on a separate day before it moves to the Senate.

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  • jdupree Jul 1, 2013

    Neither a City or a Property Owner should be forced to join each other. Forced annexation in any form is wrong!

  • boguesounder Jun 29, 2013

    pure corruption. moneyed interests spreading money around to get their way.

  • chip8 Jun 28, 2013

    "Sometimes common sense has to prevail," said Rep. Mike Stone, R-Lee. It seems that "common sense" is "uncommon" in our state legislature.

  • geosol Jun 28, 2013

    Yet another example of the REPUBLICAN ploy to PRIVATIZE PROFITS and SOCIALIZE LOSSES. Their rich buddies make even more money while you and i get to pay for their projects. Today's REPUBLICANS never met a BIG GOVERNMENT that they didn't like - whenever it suits their needs and makes money for themselves and their rich donors.

  • rushbot Jun 28, 2013

    more micro management by the small government gop.. .. ..what's up with you all in durham.. .. ..why does the gop think they need to tell you all what to do in your community?!?!?!

  • 42_wral_mods_suck_i'm_gone Jun 28, 2013

    Is NC paying for this or is Durham? I'd sue.

    The place is probably owned by some big GOP donors. Next time Durham taxes go up be sure to spread some blame to the GOP.

  • balog Jun 27, 2013

    so much for letting local government handle local affairs...more proof this gop legislature is in the pockets of developers....

  • SirWired Jun 27, 2013

    Funny how these "small-government" conservatives forget about all that when they disagree with the result. Overriding a local government on something that is clearly within their purview (and not a "state" issue at all) is "big government" if I ever saw it.

    And I'm more than a little skeptical on those job numbers... while the project may end up employing 3,000 people, I suspect most of those jobs will be moved there from other locations in the Durham area.

  • carolynandbitsy Jun 27, 2013

    This bill is not only sad for Durham but the state. There were many reasons why the city was against this development and supplying water.

    I wish you had quoted Mike Woodard who was the original co sponsor of this bill and more from what Representative Paul Luebke said.

    I wish you had quoted Representative Brawley's insightful questions in the Finance Committee. He asked the developer when he bought the land if the city had made any promises. Which of course they had not. He talked about how this was wrong for an outsider like Moore to push this bill.
    Why aren't you writing about WHAT REALLY WENT ON!
    Why didn't you quote more about what Mickie said and Larry Hall. DO MORE HOMEWORK BEFORE YOU WRITE!

    They asked questions about the JOBS JOBS JOBS being in the bill and of course they were not in there, just empty promises from Mitchel.

    This is a fluff article lacking the substance of what went on and Representative's Mickie Michaux insights into the devious dealings of McKissick

  • billsmith98 Jun 27, 2013

    "Backers of the project said it would create 3,000 jobs. " how many are coming from out of state...?