Opponents of the controversial 751 South development, which county commissioners approved 3-2 this week, are planning to file a lawsuit against the county, a representative said early Tuesday.
Kim Preslar, a resident of the Chancellor's Ridge neighborhood who organized a formal petition against the project, confirmed that she and other opponents of the project have been working with Raleigh lawyer Dhamian Blue, of Raleigh firm Blue Stephens & Fellers.
"We will be pursuing a legal complaint and it will be challenging Lowell Siler's opinion," Preslar said. Siler, the Durham County attorney, offered a controversial opinion Monday night stating the N.C. DOT didn't lawfully reject a land gift recently given to it from Southern Durham Development.
Siler's opinion, and subsequent interpretation by planning Director Steve Medlin, dictated that since the N.C. DOT now possesses an extended right-of-way, most signatures on the protest petition filed by Preslar and other homeowners was invalid.
A valid protest petition would have required four of the five county commissioners to approve the controversial 751 South development. But since the petition was invalidated by the N.C. DOT's involvement, only three commissioners were needed for the development plans to pass.
Preslar said the Chancellor's Ridge Homeowners' Association, which signed the protest petition, would not be involved in the lawsuit. Preslar is also a member of that HOA.
Once a lawsuit is filed, it will be the second lawsuit pending against Durham County for its actions on determining the validity of a protest petition. Project opponents filed suit against the county and its planning department last fall after it erroneously ruled a protest petition in a related matter to be invalid, when it actually had met all the legal requirements.