Durham County Commissioner Becky Heron attempted to get some answers about a controversial petition aired at last night’s commissioners meeting. But her attempt was unsuccessful. County Attorney Lowell Siler recommended that the board talk about the petition in closed session, in large part due to the fact that petitioners could sue the county over the results.
“I wanted us to have an open session and just be very transparent and open to the people,” Heron said.
Through the county’s channels, Siler announced last week that the petition was invalid, in part because of problems with signatures. The petition was filed last month by the Haw River Assembly, with the help of the Southern Environmental Law Center, to make it more difficult for commissioners to rezone the protected area around Jordan Lake. If the petition were valid, it would have required four commissioners to vote to rezone the area, instead of the simple majority of a 3-to-2 vote. That simple majority led to the rezoning on Oct. 12.
But the planning department said the petition didn’t present enough signatures. Since then, the planning department and county have been in a back-and-forth disagreement regarding whether the petition was valid, arguing on points of the land that was counted and whether the signatures were valid.