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 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.
Labels: City Council, development, Durham
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