Dependable Erection

Monday, May 19, 2008

Memo to elected officials in Durham

Just in case you were wondering why the proposals to "steamline" the development review process, floated 10 days ago by city staffers in response to a request by the mayor, drew such vehement opposition from neighborhood activists across the city, you don't need to look any further than this article in the Herald sun by Ray Gronberg this morning:
But officials allowed the development team assembled by Fairfield Residential of Bethesda, Md., to push for the rezoning without submitting a formal traffic impact study, which would have cost the developer months of times and tens of thousands of dollars.

Suski and Goodwin point to an August 2007 series of e-mails between city transportation office staffer Bill Judge and one of the consultants working for the developer, John R. McAdams Co. Traffic Engineering Director Earl Llewellyn.

Durham law requires a traffic impact study if a project will generate "at least 150 vehicle trips" at either the morning or evening rush hour. Llewellyn claimed the project would generate 149 trips at rush hour, but Judge said his initial calculations showed it would generate 150.

Judge suggested Fairfield bring the project under the threshold by filing it as a 239-unit development. But Llewellyn pointed out that his calculations using the 240-unit plan suggested it would generate 149.65 trips at rush hour.

In response, Judge agreed to truncate the estimate instead of rounding it up to 150, reasoning that 149.65 is less than 150.

. . .

Goodwin and Suski also believe city/county planners were quicker to answer the developers' request for information than they were the neighbors'.

Project lawyer Craigie Sanders has been privy to every written communication that's occurred between city/county planners and the neighbors, thanks to a Public Records Law request he filed on Jan. 28.

Goodwin, by contrast, said her own efforts to secure information on the developers' contacts with the city were a struggle, with a key official at one point insisting the neighbors pay postage for relaying documents to them.

Kinda gives you that warm fuzzy feeling all over, doesn't it?

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