Local News

Public sounds off on 751 South project

Posted July 26, 2010 11:50 p.m. EDT
Updated July 27, 2010 10:46 a.m. EDT

— 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.

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.