I would like to thank everyone who came out in support of the project to the planning commission meeting on Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately, though there were more supporters of the project at the meeting than against, and more supporters contacted the planning commission than opponents, the members of the planning commission evidently did not or refused to hear the voices of many of Durham’s citizens. The 2-11 vote from the planning commission certainly is another obstacle we must overcome, and to do that, we still need your support.
In fact, your support is more necessary now than ever before.
At two commissioners in favor to eleven against, it is as if the majority of the planning commission failed to consider the merits of the many valuable points raised by proponents of North River Village. The comments from some of the commissioners reveal that they indeed did not listen to residents of North Durham.
I would like to analyze some of the comments made at the planning commission meeting
- Many commissioners said that they could not support the project because they did not believe that the proposal represented true mixed use. In their eyes, true mixed use consists of vertically integrated buildings with ground floor retail and upper story residential. Of course, vertically integrated mixed use buildings at the intersection of Guess and Latta do not really make sense. The irony is that many of these same commissioners referred to how the Mixed Use district is meant to provide some flexibility for developers to custom fit mixed use projects for the context of the area, yet they held on to a “one size fits all” approach for what mixed use ought to look like. It simply is dishonest to suggest that vertical mixed use is desirable at this intersection. And, it is unfair to suggest that the proposed project is not a mixed use development.
- Other commissioners stated that they felt proponents of the project merely supported Publix, and had not considered whether the project was appropriate for this area, consistent with the Comprehensive Plan, or compliant with the UDO. Evidently, these commissioners did not hear how property values in this area have been depressed. They did not hear how many miles people north of this site have to travel to enjoy the comforts that the rest of Durham seems to have. They do not understand that new families are not moving to North Durham because it lacks meaningful retail. They did not hear how the proposed development, in the opinion of the planning staff, is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan. They did not see that the planning staff had determined that the project is compliant with the UDO. Instead, the simply marginalized the many voices in favor of the project by chalking it up to a love for Publix.
Their decision undermines the time you all have spent in evaluating this project and choosing to support it. It suggests that North Durham residents who support the project are incapable of evaluating the project in a meaningful way. It ignores the experience of North Durham families who have lived there for decades without even a hint of any economic interest in the area. Frankly, it was disrespectful for commissioners to imply that North Durham residents do not fully understand what they are supporting.
There is an overwhelming amount of support for this project in North Durham. In order for this project to be approved, the voices of supporters cannot go ignored by members of the City Council as they were by the Planning Commission. Please sign up for the website email alerts and join our Facebook page to keep up to date as we move through the process.
We will need you to show up to the meeting and email your support as well. As soon as we know when City Council plans to review this project we will let you know.
Thank you all for your support up to this point and I hope you will continue to support the project.