The Durham City Council on Monday night rejected a controversial rezoning request in north Durham.
The North River Village proposal, quashed in a 6-1 vote, sought to rezone property at the intersection of Guess and Latta roads from residential suburban to mixed-use to make way for the part-commercial, part-residential development. The development had stirred an intense level of debate in north Durham, flooding the city council email inbox with messages in support and opposition and spurring some heated exchanges on Facebook and NextDoor. (While discussion of the project was lengthy—more than two hours—it was pretty tame; Mayor Bill Bell only once deemed someone in the crowd out of order.)
Council member Eddie Davis cast the lone vote for the development.
"I think years from now we will regret this decision for north Durham," he said.
Council members who voted against the project said the rezoning would not be consistent with the surrounding residential area. "A rezoning is not a referendum on a particular project. It's a land-use decision," said council member Jillian Johnson.
The council's decision, which aligned with a February vote by the Durham Planning Commission, was met with applause from opponents in the crowd. Had the rezoning gone through, it could have brought with it Durham's first Publix supermarket, which had been a major part of the developers' marketing of the project. (Publix lovers will continue to have to drive to Cary.)
During a public hearing, opponents and supporters debated the impact of the proposed development on the environment, traffic, schools, and the overall character of north Durham. Nineteen people signed up to speak in support, twenty-five against.
Proponents touted road improvements and the potential economic benefits the development would bring to an area they say has not shared in Durham's recent growth. Opponents countered with maps of other sites in the area already zoned for commercial use, a petition they said had 1,075 signatures opposing the development, and a resolution from the InterNeighborhood Council of Durham supporting the planning commission's vote against the development.
This article appeared in print with the headline "+NO PUBLIX."