Durham INC

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`Spite Strips' and Protest Petitions PDF Print E-mail
Appendix B
A RESOLUTION of the INTERNEIGHBORHOOD COUNCIL OF DURHAM on Spite Strips and Protest Petitions (Passed)

WHEREAS after several questionable deferrals, on May 24, 2010, Durham citizens filed a protest petition against Rezoning Case # Z0800003 (to rezone from ‘Rural Residential’ to ‘Mixed Use Suburban’ the ~167 acre parcel now removed from the protected watershed area); and
WHEREAS the NC General Assembly on July 9, 2010, passed Bill S1399 which changed Durham County's regulations for protest petitions in order to align them with the city’s, but also removed the validity of signatures of landowners separated by more than 100 feet of road right-of-way from the parcel to be rezoned; and
WHEREAS on Jul 12, 2010, the current planning director ruled valid the Z0800003 protest petition; and
WHEREAS on July 13, 2010, in a highly unusual maneuver, NCDOT accepted a 40-foot strip of land along 751 (a "spite strip") as an easement for a future right-of-way, unknowingly bringing into question the interpreted validity of the Z0800003 protest petition, the learning of which caused NCDOT to subsequently reject this land ‘donation’ on July 26, 2010; and
WHEREAS on August 9, 2010, the Board of County Commissioners voted 3-2 to approve the Z0800003 rezoning, and the county attorney gave his opinion that the NCDOT revocation was not legal, thereby forcing the planning director to invalidate the protest petition; and
WHEREAS on September 9, 2010, protest petition signatories filed complaint with the Durham County Board of Adjustment (BOA) regarding the county’s handling of the protest petition and its ruling in rezoning case #Z0800003, and on October 13, 2010, when the county deemed the case inappropriate for the BOA, the citizens filed complaint with Superior Court; and
WHEREAS it is unfair for citizens to be stripped of valid protest petition signatures, and therefore of their right to protect their interests from possible deleterious development immediately across the street/right-of-way, based solely on the width of that street/ right-of-way; and
WHEREAS there appears to be no reason for the exclusion of landowners from signing a protest petition based solely on the width of the street/right-of-way between his/her land and the parcel being considered for rezoning, except as a way to disenfranchise said landowners of the process by which to protect their interests;

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the InterNeighborhood Council of Durham, through its government and its members, requests Durham city and county government, to appeal to the NC General Assembly, as necessary and remove from the following quoted protest petition requirements the following phrase: “as long as that street right-of-way is 100 feet wide or less” (UDO 3.5.13B.1.b.2).

“To qualify as a protest under this section, the petition must be signed by the owners of either (i) twenty percent (20%) or more of the area included in the proposed change or (ii) five percent (5%) of a 100-foot-wide buffer extending along the entire boundary of each discrete or separate area proposed to be rezoned. A street right-of-way shall not be considered in computing the 100-foot buffer area as long as that street right-of-way is 100 feet wide or less” (UDO 3.5.13B.1).