Durham Mistake Means Protest Petition Stands
Commission Vote Means Jordan Lake Boundaries Remain
10.29.2009 – CHAPEL HILL, NC—The Durham City-County Planning Department
miscounted the amount of affected land owned by signatories to a protest petition
and improperly invalidated a protest petition filed on October 5 ahead of the vote by
the Durham Board of County Commissioners, according to the Southern
Environmental Law Center and Haw River Assembly. On October 12, the county
commissioners’ 3-2 vote to move the critical area boundary fell short of the 4-1 vote
required by the valid protest petition so Jordan Lake watershed boundaries could
not be amended.
The Southern Environmental Law Center brought the error to the attention of the
department on Tuesday, October 27.
“We urge Durham County to admit its error, give full weight to the collective voice of
affected landowners in a valid petition, and acknowledge that the proposed
boundary move did not receive enough votes to pass during the October 12 vote of
the county commissioners,” said Kay Bond, an attorney with the Southern
Environmental Law Center.
The petition was signed by 24 property owners who would be affected by the
county's request to move the critical area boundary. Using the planning
department’s own methods and numbers, they represented 20.9 percent of the
owners eligible to sign a protest petition. A valid petition must have signatures
representing at least 20 percent.
A review of the numbers and methods used by the Durham City-County Planning
Department revealed that a large portion of an affected parcel of land owned by a
signatory to the petition was overlooked in the department’s count. In a cursory
glance, the large parcel might appear to be two separate parcels divided by U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers property. The planning department only counted one
fraction of the parcel as belonging to the signatory. A closer analysis of GIS data
from Durham County and corresponding count