A map of showing the rail operations and maintenance facility for Durham-Orange Light Rail.

Neighbors have filed a lawsuit challenging the Durham City Council’s vote to rezone property on Farrington Road for a maintenance facility to serve the Durham-Orange Light Rail line.

The complaint was filed in Durham County court Thursday by six residents against the city of Durham and GoTriangle, the public transit agency heading up the light rail project.

The city council voted unanimously on December 3 to rezone the twenty-three-acre-site after hearing from about seventy people both in support of and opposed to the rezoning. While supporters said the facility was needed to ensure the viability of the light rail project, which is currently seeking federal funding, opponents raised concerns about noise emanating from trains entering the facility, chemicals that may be present on the site, and traffic in and out of the building, which would not include a light rail stop.

The complaint alleges that the vote constitutes “spot zoning” because it isn’t compatible with the city’s Comprehensive Plan and the facility wouldn’t match its surroundings. Prior to the December 3 vote, the site was zoned residential and designated for office and commercial use on the city’s Future Land Use Map. The vote changed the zoning to light industrial. 

All of the plaintiffs live in Culp Arbor, a fifty-five-and-up community across the street from the proposed rail operations and maintenance facility site. According to the complaint, “the rezoning will irreparably damage the plaintiffs’ quality of life and they will lose enjoyment of their properties due to the rezoning.” The complaint also alleges that language adopted by the council codifying the rezoning vote doesn’t meet the muster of state statute and that the decision was “arbitrary.” 

“Members of the City Council based their votes on their perceived value of a light rail system not the impact of the rezoning of the site,” the complaint says. 

Further, the neighbors say their rights to due process were violated by the city and GoTriangle. The transit agency didn’t provide sufficient details on its plans, the complaint says, and a noise analysis of the facility “is not based on detailed design and cannot adequately reflect noise from actual design.” That analysis was released in October and contains figures GoTriangle said during the December 3 rezoning hearing don’t accurately reflect the noise levels neighbors would experience from trains traveling on a curved track into the ROMF building once mitigation efforts are in place. 

The complaint asks a judge to declare the rezoning decision null and void.

In an emailed statement, a GoTriangle spokesperson says, “GoTriangle has received a copy of the complaint and our legal team will be reviewing it carefully.” 

City Attorney Patrick Baker says while he has received the complaint, he is still reviewing it. He added that City Council would be briefed on it “in the near future.”

Read the full complaint below:

ROMF Rezoning Complaint 01…. by on Scribd

One reply on “Neighbors Sue to Block Durham Light Rail Maintenance Facility”

  1. The plaintiffs are NIMBYs who have just moved to the area who are trying to stop a transit plan that’s been 30 years in the works. If they were truly unaware of the transit plan, perhaps they should complain to their realtor.

    Of the six plaintiffs:
    -Meihaus just moved her voter registration from Wake County in January.
    -The Hoffmans just moved their voter registrations from Avery County in Oct 2017.
    -The Gunters are still registered to vote at Topsail Beach.

    This is a site right beside I-40, where the traffic count is 100,000 cars/day – hardly a quiet, wilderness-like area.

    This lawsuit is the height of absurdity, putting a privileged few above what’s best for the entire community – a project that’s been in the works since the 1990’s.

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