Debate over 751 South heating up

A mixed-use development in south Durham off of Highway 751
July 25, 2010 9:00:00 PM PDT
The North Carolina Department of Transportation has announced it has decided to reverse its acceptance of the right-of-way donation from the developers along Highway 751 in southern Durham County. The news comes after the project has brought great debate about whether 164 wooded acres bordering Highway 751 and Jordan Lake in southern Durham should become a multi-million dollar mixed-used community.

Officials say 751 south would bring housing, jobs and businesses to southern Durham County.

At a meeting Monday, Durham County leaders argued about whether the DOT's rejection of the parcel of land affects a petition from residents protesting the development.

"I am concerned with the environmental impact, but much more with the watershed impact," said Susan Pochapsky, who opposes the 751 south project.

Had the DOT accepted the developer's three acre right-of-way, neighbors say they would have been stuck without a voice.

"I just thought when we signed the petition it was going to hopefully make a difference, but my impression is I don't think it's going to make any difference," townhome owner Elan Elmahr said.

The nearby homeowner's association signed the petition on behalf of townhome owners who make up less than a fifth of the neighborhood. It is one reasons single family homeowners like Shane Kirk say they will sue.

"They've breached their fiduciary responsibility to their members," he said. "I know there's a bunch of amenities that I think would improve our lives."

Kirk says he believes the 751 south plan will increase property values.

Meanwhile, developers say they plan to leave a third of the land natural. The rest would include residential, office, and shopping space and possibly two new schools.

Commissioners will continue their meeting on Thursday and are slated to vote on the project.

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