751 South developers meet deadline for requesting utilities
City officials say the would-be developers of 751 South met the deadline for applying for water and sewer service under a state law that forces the city to offer those services.
The developers’ lawyer, Cal Cunningham, sent in their formal request for an extension on Sept. 6. Another lawyer, Gene Davis Jr., followed up Oct. 10 by certifying that the developers had recorded the signed utility extension agreement with the county register of deeds.
The two filings “appear to comport with” the condition state legislators and Gov. Pat McCrory placed on the state’s order to the city to make utilities available to the controversial real estate project, City Attorney Patrick Baker said.
The state’s intervention, embodied in a bill McCrory signed into law Aug. 23, gave developers Alex Mitchell and Tyler Morris a 60-day window to notify the city they would carry through their previous request for utilities.
That in effect gave them an Oct. 22 deadline for filing.
Cunningham’s Sept. 6 letter to the city said Mitchell and Morris will, as the state requires, honor the terms of the agreement they negotiated with Mayor Bill Bell earlier this year.
They will pay for the new water and sewer connections, and for a widening of N.C. 751 South from the project site on the southern edge of Durham County all the way north to Renaissance Parkway. The widening will include sidewalks.
City Council members voted 4-3 in early June to reject the Bell-negotiated deal.
But on largely party-line votes in the Republican-dominated General Assembly, state legislators opted to force the city to offer services. The intervention bill passed the N.C. House 76-33 in early July and made it through the state Senate 34-7 later in the month.
State Sen. Floyd McKissick, D-Durham, was the only local legislator to support the bill.
County Commissioners in 2010 approved zoning for the site that allows Mitchell and Morris to build up 1,300 homes and 600,000 square feet of commercial space on a 167-acre site on the west side of N.C. 751’s intersection with Fayetteville Road.
The project attracted considerable opposition in Durham because of its proximity to Jordan Lake, a regional reservoir, and for undermining previous agreements between the city and county to discourage commercial development south of Renaissance Parkway.
Supporters of the project in the General Assembly faulted the city for second-guessing the county’s zoning decision, and argued the project would reduce unemployment.