751 South development gets green light

A mixed-use development in south Durham off of Highway 751
August 10, 2010 4:57:26 AM PDT
The Durham County Commission has voted to move ahead with controversial development project along Highway 751 south of Durham.

Supporters and opponents have spent years arguing over 751 South - 164 wooded acres bordering Highway 751 and Jordan Lake, near the Streets at Southpoint, which developer Southern Durham Development wants to turn into a multi-million dollar mixed-used community.

Supporters say the project would bring jobs and expand the county's tax base, but opponents say it will add to water quality issues in Jordan Lake and add to urban sprawl.

Developers disagree, saying they've met regulatory standards and say they plan to leave a third of the land natural and the rest would include residential, office, and shopping space and possibly two new schools.

Fireworks erupted at a commission meeting Monday night when a protest petition signed by area residents that would have required four of the five commissioners to vote for the zoning change was ruled invalid.

That cleared the way for a 3-2 vote in favor of rezoning.

The vote prompted accusations from both sides over who was influencing them.

Becky Heron, one of the two commissioners opposed to the project, went as far as to ask for full disclosure of who on the commission has been given what by the developers, which sparked outrage among the board.

Commissioner Joe Bowser fired back that nobody had given him a penny and called on opponents to disclose who had given them campaign money.

Despite Monday's vote, the issue may not be settled. Opponents are considering legal challenges.

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