Local News

Durham Neighborhood Holding City to 30-Year-Old Promise

Posted August 13, 1998 7:00 a.m. EDT

— In the real estate business, they say location is everything, but the location of some prime real estate in Durham has some residents up in arms.

The battle known as the "buffer dispute" has pitted residential against commercial once again. The controversy surrounds a strip of land situated between Northgate Mall and the Trinity Park neighborhood. Developers want to build a hotel and two restaurants on the acreage.

Those who live in Trinity Park say the city made a promise 30 years ago that it would never develop that land. They say it was designated as a buffer zone between the neighborhood and surrounding commercial activity. The residents have organized, and say they will be heard.

"They want to put a hotel in down there and two restaurants," said area resident Hugh Lecky. "Right now we have, going up and down Duke and Gregson Streets, [there is] something like 20,000 cars a day. At 5 o'clock in the afternoon, that cuts down. Putting in that motel and the two restaurants, [the traffic] would continue on through 11 o'clock at night, which would destroy the evening hours, the quiet hours, here in our neighborhood."

"They promised when they built that shopping center, they would have a buffer zone," said Lee Ribet. "Now, it seems like they're changing, encroaching on the people's rights."

The value of the land has increased dramatically over the past 30 years. When the promise was first made, Northgate was a small, strip shopping center. Along with its growth into a major mall, property values have also grown.

The city planning office says plans for that particular plot of land have made their way through the planning process. The plan will go before the city council in September.

The decision is going to affect about 1,100 residents, many of whom say they will be at the city council meeting.