Area proposed for rezoning
  • Area proposed for rezoning

A public hearing on the controversial rezoning request put forth by Southern Durham Development to create a new community in South Durham could again be deferred, this time at the developers’ request. Durham’s Board of County Commissioners could decide tonight whether to honor the request from attorneys for Southern Durham Development.

Patrick Byker, the attorney who requested the deferral for the developers, said he sent an e-mail to the planning department Friday afternoon asking for more time.

“This project has had a long history and it’s fairly complex,” Byker said Monday. “We wanted to meet with more of our supporters in the community and make sure they understand the facts of the case so we could have a strong presentation at the public hearing.”

A deferral could push the public hearing back to late July (as late as July 23). Currently, the public hearing for this rezoning case is scheduled for Wednesday, June 23.

The public hearing in this rezoning case, which pertains to 167 acres off N.C. 751 in the southwest corner of Durham County, was originally scheduled for May 24. South Durham resident Melissa Rooney, who opposes the proposed high-density developed for this land, asked the Board of County Commissioners to push back the date. After a small tug-of-war over the appropriate date, commissioners settled for June 23.

It looks like opponents of this project also are aiming for a strong showing at the public hearing, which they have achieved easily in the past. In addition to a resolution expected to be passed soon by the InterNeighborhood Council of Durham against the rezoning, opponents have filed a protest petition on the rezoning, and are holding a relay race on Thursday (see the jump for details).

According to the city/county Unified Development Ordinance, which governs these decisions, both the proponents of the rezoning and the opponents may ask for one deferral (maximum of 30 days), for a total of two deferrals. (See section 3.5.7)

The developers’ attempts to have the land rezoned has hit numerous snags over the past two and a half years, including lawsuits against Durham County officials for the way it has been handled. (For more history on this issue, click the 751 Assemblage tag.)Details on that Thursday race: The Durham People’s Alliance, a left-leaning community group, will be holding the “Relay Run for a Paycheck” beginning at 4:30 p.m. at the Holton Career Resource Center at 401 N. Driver St. Fifteen runners will continue down the American Tobacco Trail to a home near the site of the proposed development, which is 11 miles away, said Kate Fellman, coordinator for the PA.

“It’s to raise awareness of the proposed rezoning of the 751 development site, and to show the public how far away this site is from the Durham residents who need those jobs the most,” Fellman said.

The developer has touted the proposed project, which would bring 1,300 residences, shopping and retail space to a rural corner of the county. But, Fellman said, the community would offer the wrong kinds of jobs in the wrong part of the county: a destination that is not currently served by public transit.