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Neighbors fight proposed Durham County development

Posted July 21, 2011
Updated July 22, 2011

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— The fight over a proposed Durham County development went to court Thursday.

The 751 South project would bring about 1,300 homes and up to 600,000 square feet of commercial and retail space to 167 acres along N.C. Highway 751 near the Durham-Chatham county line.

The battle over the project has gone on for more than three years. Developers and supporters say it would bring jobs to the area, expand the county's tax base and allow for two new schools to be built, while opponents fear it would harm nearby Jordan Lake and the rural landscape.

The Durham County Board of Commissioners approved the project last August, but some neighbors said that vote shouldn't count. They filed suit, claiming a petition they filed should have required four of five commissioners to vote in favor of the development for it to proceed.

Although local planning officials said the protest petition was valid, the county ruled it invalid, saying the neighbors didn't live close enough to the development to protest it.

In a court hearing Thursday, lawyers for the neighbors argued that the only reason the group was deemed to live outside the boundary for a protest petition was because of a gift of land to the state Department of Transportation.

The DOT later declined the gift after learning the property was in the middle of the dispute over 751 South.

Lawyers for the neighborhood group said in court that the DOT never actually accepted the deed and that Southern Durham Development never gave up possession of the land. They also asserted that the DOT staffer who signed the agreement with the developer didn't have the authority to do so.

Attorneys for the developer and the county contended that, even if the DOT didn't have the deed at the time the Board of Commissioners voted, the land would have been considered abandoned because Southern Development didn't accept it. For that reason, they said, the protest petition should be ruled as invalid and the board's vote should stand.

Superior Court Judge G. Wayne Abernathy is expected to issue a ruling next week.

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  • no contest Jul 22, 2011

    I remember when Southpoint Mall was being planned and built. I live less than 3 miles from there. I remember the old Volvo's and Subaru's with bumper stickers covering the entire back end of these cars. A couple of the bumper stickers made statements like 'Stop The Sprawl' or 'Stop Southpoint Mall'. There were signs on the roadside protesting the mall and there was even a website. BUT!! Southpoint mall was built, and then more was built around the mall too. And more will be built. I can't wait.

    You still see the people from the past with their old Volvo's and Subaru's covered with faded bumper stickers. Some now drive a worn out Prius covered in bumper stickers. I even saw one of those cars at Southpoint mall recently.

  • aspenstreet1717 Jul 22, 2011

    Progress = more traffic, more people,more concrete. No thanks.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Jul 22, 2011

    At least consider the environmental and long-term detriment of this project and how it will affect future generations.

    Don't be so quick to limit your thought. Any short-term gain needs to be tempered with fore-thought.

  • no contest Jul 22, 2011

    This project means Progress, Jobs, Increased tax revenue and a better public infrastructure built in the local area. Is this NOT what the Obama regime wants? This project has been planned and people could be put to work quickly. This project IS shovel ready. Unlike some of Obama's other projects.

  • sat123 Jul 22, 2011

    JABG, they've widened the entrance to two lanes for 751->40-Eastbound, and it looks like they're clearing the shoulder and getting ready to eventually add an extra lane on 751 so that people coming from Chatham County can turn left into the new development. Other than that, the only signal tuning so far has been to lengthen the green lights for mall traffic, shortening the green light for people just trying to go straight down 751. With the intersection changing from 3-way to 4-way and adding a bunch of shops and things there, it doesn't seem likely that the already shortchanged straight light will be given much more time.

  • Just another bad guy Jul 22, 2011

    With developments of this size, they usually require upgrades to surrounding streets and re-time signals to accommodate the extra traffic.

  • carolynandbitsy Jul 22, 2011

    HAVE YOU HEARD OF ZONING???????????
    Yes people have the right to build and these developers currently could build according the the ZONING of the property when they bought it..... The issue is their desire to CHANGE the zoning to build HIGH DENSITY in an area that is rural. Yes Southpoint is nearby but according to the long range plan should not have been built in a rural area either!!!
    YES we can throw zoning out the window and just let people build what ever they like, where ever they want it, but we have ZONING ..... I promise you would not want a pig farm across the street from your house or a huge BAR that was open til 2am with lots of traffic across the street.....
    SO WE HAVE ZONING.

    We also have environmental laws to protect our water quality. And this is at RISK TOO....WITH THE DEVELOPMENT SOOOOOOO CLOSE TO JORDAN LAKE AND THE WATER SHED.

    THIS IS A BAD LOCATION FOR THIS DEVELOPMENT. Not to mention traffic issues from over a 1000 homes to be built.

  • no contest Jul 21, 2011

    I hope this goes through and the building can start. We need jobs and additional tax revenue.

    This IS going to be built one way or another. Durham will not turn down additional incoming tax money. Long term this better than letting people stay out of work. It is a better plan for the greater good.

  • sat123 Jul 21, 2011

    I live off 751 in the neighborhood of petitioners (though we didn't sign). It really will suck for us, though. The roads can't really support 1300 homes plus shopping. Traffic heading from Chatham County on 751 towards 40 really gets short shrift at the mall intersection - we wait a long time only to have the light turn green long enough for five cars to get through, then the next light turns red when we get up to it. What's going to happen when that turns from a 3-way intersection into a 4-way with shopping and homes?

    Not to mention it's essentially no-man's-land anyway, between Chatham and Durham. We dodged potholes on Stagecoach for a year before they were patched.

    Hopefully it'll bring property values up, like the mall did. Just wish they'd do something about the infrastructure before building large developments.

  • johnniepettiford Jul 21, 2011

    The Streets of Southpointe, one of the largest shopping malls in nc, is one mile away. What do they mean by rural? If they are crazy enough to build houses in this economy, let them. It just may be the spurt that the local economy needs.

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