Vote on 751 bill delayed

Jun. 12, 2013 @ 09:46 PM

N.C. House leaders have sent a bill that would force the city to provide water and sewer service to the controversial 751 South project back to committee for further review.

The move forestalled an initial floor vote that had been scheduled for Wednesday.

Instead, the bill now goes to the House Finance Committee, which will become the second panel to give a look since it was rewritten to force the city’s hand in the 751 South dispute.

City officials who would not speak on Wednesday for attribution believe the delay is likely temporary, and a function partly of a jurisdictional quarrel between a couple of Republican legislators.

The bill passed through the House rules committee on Tuesday and, in an earlier incarnation, was to have gone through the Finance Committee.

Key Durham legislators couldn’t be reached for comment on Wednesday because both the House and Senate were in formal session. The House spent roughly eight hours working on the 2013-14 state budget; the Senate addressed other issues but had a lengthy agenda of its own.

The bill, a collaboration between state Rep. Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, and state Sen. Floyd McKissick, D-Durham, follows the rough outline of a deal with the 751 project’s developers that Durham’s City Council rejected last week on a 4-3 vote.

It called on developers Alex Mitchell and Tyler Morris to pay for a widening of N.C. 751 from their site to Renaissance Parkway, save for a section of the road an unrelated project will address. In return, the city is to provide utilities.

The deal would also annex 751 South and the land involved in an expansion of the neighboring Colvard Farms development into the city, effective in 2023.

The 10-year delay acknowledges Durham officials’ worry the project won’t develop quickly enough in the coming decade to generate tax revenue sufficient to offset the cost of city services.

But unlike the deal the council rejected, the city wouldn’t have any discretion about whether to absorb the project in 2023. The bill stipulates that it must; city officials wanted a chance to opt out if it looks like 751 South will be a money-loser for local government.