Public hearing held on multi-million dollar project

DURHAM Residents in Durham packed a public hearing Tuesday to discuss the 751 south project.

It is a multi-million dollar mixed use development that calls for 1,300 homes and 600,000 square feet of retail space to be built off Highway 751 near Jordan Lake.

The plan for the wooded area off the two-lane highway in southern Durham County has been in the works for two years.

Supporters say the project will give the economy a well-needed boost, but critics are concerned about the impact on the environment.

"We strongly believe that it's time for it to move forward," developer's attorney Patrick Byker said.

In order to move forward with the 751 south project, developers have to first get past Durham's planning commission. Their recommendation is key if the subdivision is to be annexed to the city, giving it access to water and sewer lines.

Despite claims the project would boost the local economy, pay for $6 million in road improvements and donate property to Durham schools; it's not without its critics.

"The e-mails that we've received on it have been running strongly against that application being approved," Planning Commission Chairman Don Moffitt said.

Moffitt says residents have expressed concern for the Jordan Lake watershed and the city's planning department has already recommended 751 south be denied.

"In this case they're saying it does not meet all the provisions of our comprehensive plan, which is our vision for how Durham should be in 30 years," he said.

Still, 751 south developers insist their plan is both environmentally friendly and flexible.

"If this project is not approved … then the economic stimulus that Durham County needs … because we have eight percent unemployment … if the project is not approved certainly those job opportunities would not be created," Byker said.

The planning commission is recommending to city and county leaders that 751 south be denied, but the county board will have the final say on the matter. The final decision will be made at a later date.

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