Dependable Erection

Monday, October 12, 2009

Jordan Lake

I wish i could get more worked up over this whole Jordan Lake rezoning case, which moves to its more or less inevitable conclusion tonight when the Durham County Board of Commissioners will, by a 3-2 vote*, approve Southern Durham Development, Inc.'s request to rezone 165 or acres near the lake for high-density, mixed use development.

The shenanigans surrounding this rezoning, beginning with then Planning Department Director Frank Duke unilaterally accepting a developer funded survey of the site when he appeared to have no legal basis for doing so, to the latest, in which current Planning Department Director Steve Medlin ruled that petitions submitted by opponents of the rezoning only represented 17% of the neighboring property owners, rather than the 63% claimed, confirm what should be conventional wisdom among environmental activists by now: if you want to see environmentally sensitive land protected from development, you need to own it. The Eno River Association successfully learned that lesson more than 25 years ago, and the entire community benefits from the decisions made then. Buy land, then preserve it. Don't waste your time lobbying your government to preserve it. Governments have as much a vested interest in development as developers do.

The 63% vs 17% petition is significant. Had the number of property owners on the petition exceeded the 20% threshold, then the rezoning would have needed 4 votes out of 5 on the BoCC to be approved. According to the Herald Sun, petitioners are unable to explain away the difference in methodologies used in calculating whether the threshold was met, since none of the signatures was deemed invalid.

Wonder what will happen if the board approves the rezoning 3-2, and then some weeks down the road, an appeal on the validity of the petition proves successful? Will the rezoning end up back in court again, or will it be a done deal?

More importantly, will i care?

*No inside information claimed here. In fact, i'll be happy to be proven wrong after the vote is taken.

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