Dependable Erection

Monday, January 03, 2011

New Year - Same Old Shit

Durham's City Council holds its first meeting of 2011 tonight, and lo and behold, Southern Durham Development's 751 South project is on the agenda. Following a 2 year run at the clown show that is the Board of County Commissioners, SDD and their lawyers, K&L Gates, are asking the City Council to redraw the Urban Growth Area boundaries, thus including the parcel adjacent to Jordan Lake in order to provide a path for sewer and water services to be brought in, as well as to obviate the current lawsuit filed by opponents of the project over the actions of the BoCC and County Attorney Lowell Siler in the run-up to the BoCC's rezoning of the parcel last year.

The Indy, BCR, the Herald-Sun, & the N&O have all covered the details of that tawdry episode, so i'm not going to bother with a recap.

Let's just note a couple of things.

First, there is only one reason to even consider this request. And that is to ensure that the investors make the maximum profit possible. If you believe that's the role of government, then you're in favor of annexation.

Second, Durham doesn't need to develop its rural fringes in order to grow its tax base. There are plenty of redevelopment opportunities in town, that take advantage of existing infrastructure, to do that. The area surrounding the old ballpark, for instance, is primed to take off in the next 3 or 4 years, and don't be surprised to see hundreds, if not a thousand or more, new residential units come on line in that part of town now that large chunks of it have been rezoned for higher density residential. The infrastructure investments required to serve that population increase will be an order of magnitude less than having to provide new services to a village sized community on the far fringe of the county.

Third, how will this development provide a match between the jobs it creates, and the parts of our community that are most in need of those jobs? It's about 15 miles from downtown Durham to this project, which may as well be in Richmond, VA, for job seekers who don't own their own transportation. Hell, both Chapel Hill and Cary are closer to the 751 project site than Northeast Central Durham.

The developers have done a great job incorporating lots of 21st century buzzwords into their presentations. We hear that this will be a livable streets mixed use development, with lots of environmental impact mitigations to lessen the effect of paving large areas of rural land. The bottom line, though, is that none of that matters. This is a stupid idea whose costs will be borne by all of Durham's taxpayers, and whose profits will accrue to a handful of investors. County Commissioners, who don't have to face the voters until May 2012, have already shown who they side with. Half of our City Council, as well as the Mayor, are on the ballot this year. They may be a little more mindful of the consequences of their actions.


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4 Comments:

  • They hired some very good people to do the landscape layout, and it is a very nice design... if it were in a better location.

    I need to send an e-mail to council...

    By Blogger Michael Bacon, at 3:12 PM  

  • There is, as i understand it, nothing that binds the developer to actually constructing the designs that they've shown.

    By Blogger Barry, at 3:18 PM  

  • Yes, Barry has hit the nail on the head. The only thing that the developers must adhere to are the "committed elements" of the site plans. For a list of what those actually are, see this:

    http://www.indyweek.com/images/blogimages/2010/08/13/1281718936-751scmtelements_081110.pdf

    Notice such great elements as a donated 20-year lease to DPD or DCSO for a substation (but no funds to staff or furnish it), a plot for a fire station (again, no money to build it), widening of 751 (because we need another highway in town), a community center (limited only to residents, of course), and 2 bus shelters (but no money to get buses to the shelters).

    And as for it being "mixed use" and "veritcally integrated". Well, only one building needs to be. They need to merely put one of their "affordable" units above their 75,000 square foot grocery store in order for it to be mixed use.

    We were told that the city wouldn't move forward on this issue until the tax office had a chance to make projections on future tax revenue. That hasn't happened yet. We were also going to wait until the lawsuit over the spite strip finished. So why, again, are we moving forward on this issue before it is ready?

    By Blogger Rob Gillespie, at 4:58 PM  

  • So why, again, are we moving forward on this issue before it is ready?

    Because wealthy people are at risk of losing money.

    This has been another edition of obvious answers.

    By Blogger Barry, at 6:08 PM  

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