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Public sounds off on 751 South project

Posted July 26, 2010
Updated July 27, 2010

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— The Monday evening meeting of the Durham Board of County Commissioners extended past midnight as they heard from supporters and opponents of a proposed development.

The 167-acre 751 South project runs along N.C. Highway 751 near the Durham-Chatham county line. Plans call for it to include 1,300 homes and up to 600,000 square feet of commercial and retail space.

The battle over the project has gone on for more than two years. Developers and supporters say it would bring thousands of jobs to the area.

"Everyone is looking for jobs. How can you deny a project that is going to bring jobs?” 751 South supporter Thelma White told the commissioners.

Opponents of the development fear it would harm nearby Jordan Lake and the rural landscape.

"Taking down trees, runoffs, the polluting of Jordan Lake even more than it is currently being polluted,” Durham resident David Harris told the commissioners.

Developers have said the project would be built a mile away from the lake, and they are doing all they can to reduce pollution, such as building more parking decks and fewer parking lots to reduce runoff into the watershed.

Debate over 751 South lingers Public debate over 751 South lingers

The extra traffic the development would bring to the area is another concern.

"There is going to be significant (traffic) capacity impact on Fayetteville (Road) north of the site, (and) 751 north of the site,” Patrick Young, Durham's assistant planning director, said.

Commissioners scheduled Monday’s hearing because a protest petition signed by area residents requires Southern Durham Development to get votes from four of five commissioners for a required zoning change for the project.

However, officials have said it was also legally possible for the developers to ask to be annexed into the city and seek a zoning change through the Durham City Council instead of the county.

Also at issue is a right-of-way easement with the Department of Transportation. The agreement is on hold while debate continues on the zoning change request.

After hours of discussion, commissioners decided to take up the issue again on Aug. 9.

The meeting concluded at about 12:10 a.m. Tuesday but was not adjourned, said Dawn Dudley, a spokeswoman for the county manager. Commissioners will pick up the rest of the agenda, including a proposal to put a one-quarter-cent tax increase on the November ballot, Thursday at 7 p.m.


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  • shane1701 Jul 27, 2010

    If you listened to the professionals in conservation land-use planning you would have heard them say that while the site is not necessarily the best location, the development is the best use of the site. Currently the owners of the land could operate the land as agricultural land without any permits and create much more environmental harm. Or as the conservation land use planners indicated they could build out SFRs at the current zoning and create much more pollution than the planned development would provide.

    The fact is that Durham is growing; more homes, office, retail will be needed in the future - we must plan for the future or we get left behind.

    People are fearful of developers and always work against them - increasing their costs. If people would work together, communicate and be proactive with developers then communities would achieve better results.

  • hemerocallis Jul 27, 2010

    "...but I've never stared at a Kohl's with wonder like I do when the sun sets over my farm." Well stated, ethomas04!

    This development is just not suited for these parcels, period.

    Smart growth is great but not when the locations aren't ideal for smart growth.

  • ethomas04 Jul 27, 2010

    Laxmom516- Perfectly stated. It breaks my heart to watch suburban sprawl claim what was once peaceful, quiet farm land. Remember Kildare Farm, anyone? Before it was all paved and polished? Remember the old barns? Now it's all commercialized...yuck...and moving closer and closer to the refuge that is Chatham County. 751 South is just one more example a handful of greedy capitalists making decisions for thousands. Is this proposed development the highest and best use for the land? I think not. Keep the suburban sprawl out of Chatham!

    Having said all that, I know our area is still experiencing growth despite the poor economy. That doesn't mean we can't be smart about it! If we go about allowing rural land to be developed by 100 and 200 acre parcels at a time, what will our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren have to marvel at? I don't know about you, but I've never stared at a Kohl's with wonder like I do when the sun sets over my farm.

  • laxmom516 Jul 27, 2010

    There is plenty of shopping/retail development already there. SouthPoint is with in 3 miles, Apex is with in 7-8 miles. Chapel Hill/15-501 area is close, too. I live off of 751 and we bought there because of the rural area. Chatham County is slowly becoming what Apex was 30 years ago. There are plenty of housing developments/retail and commercial spaces that are empty. Use those first. Keep our area rural!!!!

  • hemerocallis Jul 27, 2010

    bradnewsman9 - It isn't about disdain for retail development. It is about developing the right piece of land into the right thing (residential, retail, offices, industrial, etc...) to enhance the places where we live. If retail development popped up wherever it wanted it could be very problematic to the surrounding communities.

  • rsisk Jul 27, 2010

    Everyone assumes that the developer is irresponsible and does not have the best interests of the community or the environment in mind. You are quick to complain, but I bet you have not sat down with the developer to actually examine the concept. Change is inevitable folks. How many miles would you have to drive to purchase consumables if there was nothing new in South Durham? How much air pollution would this produce? How many crowded stores and parking lots would there be? How much traffic in the one area you would all go to. We all know the Triangle is a burgeoning growth area, period, and should be happy that our economy has not suffered as badly as other areas of the country. Let it be......

  • delilahk2000 Jul 27, 2010


  • Brad Newman Jul 27, 2010

    quit whining. i guess all of you make your own clothes and grow your own food. you obviously don't go shopping do to your disdain for retail development.

  • hemerocallis Jul 27, 2010

    I love that the people who are for it say it will bring jobs to the area. These people are obviously not familiar with the construction bid process...projects tend to go to the lowest bidder, despite where they are located. General contractors and subcontractors could be from elsewhere in the state. There isn't a provision in the plan to say that only local contractors are able to bid on this. Even if this were the case, there still isn't a guarantee that the people who work for these construction companies live in Durham.

    I would love to see the condo's at The Landing at Southpoint sell first...there are only 3-4 people/families who have bought there out 54 "luxury" condos. I doubt these will sell fast, though, since they are sorely out of context for the area.

  • charlieyshi Jul 27, 2010

    First it will harm nearby Jordan Lake and the rural landscape. Second, the nearby communicties have a couple of houses and townhouse not saling for more than half years. Third it will put very traffic on 751 which is already heavy traffic during working hours.