As an environmentalist, I enjoyed reading your recent article concerning K&L Gates (“How many ways has K&L Gates touched you today?” Jan. 19). It is absolutely critical for weekly media outlets such as the Independent to take a more active role in apprising the local populace of local land use issues.

The Independent‘s role is becoming increasingly more important due to mainstream newspapers’ daily reporting resources being whittled to the core. With this increased responsibility will come the need for more balanced reporting to increase the Independent‘s credibility to the mainstream. An opportunity for balance was missed when describing the rezoning case for the proposed apartments where Hillsborough Street and Morgan Street merge.

The proposed project could potentially be a good example of urban infill in a vacated industrial zone, providing an alternative to the vast suburban sprawl that typifies so many American cities. For the most part, local residents wanted to work with the developer in improving conditions for the rezoning to allow the project to proceed.

Attorneys at K&L Gates tirelessly met with and reached out to neighborhood groups to help the developer understand the community’s concerns. Conditions to improve green space, add pedestrian connectivity, set height and density restrictions, and numerous others were reached because of K&L Gates’ outreach. Eventually, the rezoning application received the endorsement of the Raleigh planning commission as being compliant with Raleigh’s new comprehensive plan and passed a City Council vote 7-1.

It’s true, a small tract bordering the back yards of some single-family and rental properties were left out of the rezoning, but this was essentially their choice to keep the current industrial zoning instead of the proposed residential zoning. The overall result of the interaction between concerned residents, city officials and the developer’s agents produced a potentially positive project for Raleigh and our environment. Thanks, K&L Gates.

Paul Shannon