Jun 20, 2014

Argument for Protest Petition in North Carolina State Law by Ben Kuhn

 
We have come to find out that the Triad Real Estate and Building Industry Coalition also known as the "TREBIC CARTEL"  has successfully snuck in wording of a bill that will repeal the Protest Petition for good with no compromise or tweaking of this state law just a complete repeal. Here is a few reports linked from this week.
Charlotte Observer HERE
Greensboro News and Record HERE
 
The sponsors of this bill admitted an intent to reduce the bargaining power of neighborhood groups in zoning fights from the Durham Herald Sun . So now we know that neighborhoods all over this state don't have a chance against the Crony Capitalist and their lobbyist who are paid to sway minds and votes. If this repeal comes to fruition than you can kiss your neighborhood good bye when the commercial crony capitalist come a knockin.
 
Talked with Ben Kuhn who agreed to allow me to repost his argument FOR Protest Petitions in North Carolina State Law here is the post
 
 

The Argument For Protest Petitions

Article Date: Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Written By: Ben Kuhn

When a rezoning application is filed, nearby residents are often faced with potential development adjacent to their community that is in conflict with their expectations based on what has always been there and what previously could have been developed under the existing zoning. The rub ordinarily arises in situations where a rezoning proposed on an adjacent property will mark a stark contrast from the zoning and/or character of development of the property already existing next door. The impacts of such a rezoning on the neighboring properties can be significant. The results of such developments can and do affect neighboring property values. This can harm property owners and the community in general.

The developer, their lawyer, architect, land planner, traffic engineer, and others pursuing a significant rezoning case usually have regular professional interaction with staff and elected officials in a number of ways. They lobby and speak directly with planning staff and elected officials. They attend and network at Chamber of Commerce meetings, receptions, downtown booster events, holiday functions, professional development seminars, fund-raisers, UDO “charrettes,” etc. There they meet, discuss matters, spend time to gain trust, and achieve some level of familiarity with and among staff and elected officials. These same officials then make decisions on matters such as rezoning cases brought by developers which often affect people living next door more than anyone else. These interactions happen day in and day out all year, every year, and in this manner developers are able to address issues and respond to questions about specific rezoning cases much more deftly and directly than the ordinary citizen. This level of familiarity takes time and money — neither of which ordinary citizens possess in large measure. This is how the gears of local power often grind. I am not here to say that is bad, or there is anything wrong with developers and others seeking out such relationships and building influence in this manner. That’s the way the world turns and how one can legally influence how power is exercised.

However, no ordinary citizen can reasonably counter-balance such input and influence with just one vote for one town council member in a particular municipal district once every four years.  The ballot box is not much refuge for these impacted citizens when the issues before the larger electorate have little, if anything, to do with the major impact arising from one rezoning application voted on three years ago which has already resulted in a “monstrous” development being built next to their “little slice of heaven.” Realistically, few persons affected can vote in any particular election cycle for the elected official that represents their district (and perhaps for one or two at-large members on the ballot). Let’s be honest: That’s not much. Without the balance-shifting power of the statutory protest petition, there is little that one or a few neighbors can do to register their objection or opposition to a particular rezoning in a manner that can influence elected officials and protect their interests.

Our Legislature has therefore concluded that there must be a mechanism that gives residents a tool to balance such substantial influence and power as exercised by local elected officials at the behest and request of developers. At its core, the protest petition is a reasonable moderating influence to ensure that neighboring properties are zoned and developed in a cohesive and complimentary manner for the benefit of everyone in the community. It is designed to provide one power and advantage to the ordinary citizen, which if it did not exist, could result in those most impacted having little in their quiver to combat overwhelming development interests and municipal authority.

The protest petition and its 75 percent super-majority vote requirement reasonably readjust the scales when a developer requests elected officials to exercise their power to approve a zoning change. This is similar to what happens in the context of a variance application requiring a four-fifths vote to be approved.

A variance application basically requests that a city or town overlook technical compliance with an ordinance where strict compliance would present unnecessary hardship, and where the variance requested is consistent with the spirit and intent of the ordinance and is in the public interest. When an elected body is tasked with voting on a rezoning application in the face of a protest petition much the same forces are at play. The developer wants something different than what is then the written law of the land — i.e., the changed zoning status of the property in question. When asked to change a zoning classification in the face of opposition from those most directly affected, decision-makers should reasonably come to near consensus that the proposed rezoning serves the public interest and should be approved despite the serious impacts upon immediate neighbors arising from the decision.

Some suggest that fairness and balance exist due to public notice requirements, staff and planning board involvement, and public records laws. However, this ignores the fact that developers and their team of professionals are experienced in navigating these waters and have crucial input and influence at every stage of the process. The family at 742 Evergreen Terrace does not. They likely have never sat down and met with, or even spoken to, a town staffer, planning board or town council member — ever — about anything. The process is usually so foreign to ordinary citizens that they do not understand that even a decision as to when to file the rezoning petition has major implications.

There are numerous moving pieces to the decision-making process involving a rezoning. When a developer comes to town council with a proposed change that will alter the nature and character of an existing zoned property, that developer should be expected to bring their “A” game. Developers should (and some do) anticipate the reasonable concerns of neighbors such that the proposed changes will be welcomed by and benefit those affected. If this were done in every case, of course, the protest petition as a “citizen weapon” would rarely be pulled out of the bag.

However, until we arrive at a day when the developer, staff, planning board, town council, and affected neighbors can all be expected to waltz through rezoning proceedings “happily-ever-after” with everyone welcoming changes brought by someone who often has no connection to the impacted neighborhood other than a desire to reap benefit from its location and development potential, the protest petition is a tool that must remain in the bag to protect nearby property owners. As a realist, and perhaps jaded a bit by some of the rezoning and other land use disputes in which I have represented those who oppose a major zoning change, we are just not there . . . and probably never will be. Until then, the Legislature must continue to ensure that the protest petition is a tool available to protect the interests of North Carolina citizens.

Ben Kuhn is the owner of the The Kuhn Law Firm, PLLC and practices law in Raleigh. He can be reached at bkuhn@kuhnlawfirm.com

Feb 12, 2014

Protest Petition will be used by Friendly Coalition in Greensboro N.C. Rezoning Case

NEWS AND RECORD

From the Greensboro News and Record today

"Scott Kinsey, co-chairman of the Friendly Coalition, a group formed to oppose the commercial rezoning, said there will certainly be a protest petition.
Protest petitions allow adjoining property owners to petition against a proposed rezoning."

Feb 10, 2014

Trader Joe's Hypocrite Lawyer Tom Terrell meet Protest Petition

From the news and record 

Trader Joe's wanting to encroach into residential neighborhood will meet Protest Petition next month at Greensboro City Council meeting. Good Luck Hypocrite lawyer for Trader Joe's Tom Terrell and your pathetic blog nc legal landscapes.

Aug 26, 2013

George Hartzman on Greensboro Not Supporting Protest Petition


George Hartzman has a post on Greensboro City Council not sending a resolution to the State of North Carolina on keeping protest petitions as a part of the zoning process . HERE is the post CLICKHERE and video below.


Jul 19, 2013

Protest Petition Talk Round Up from Editorials,Letters to Editor, News Report in North Carolina


I wanted to give you a link to plenty of talk about protest petition in North Carolina after a few lawmakers snuck in this bill to appease their crony capitalist to take away the bargaining power of neighborhoods all over this state. Here we go

Petition Retreat from Greensboro News and Record editorial out today

HERE

Killing Protest Petition Not In Our Best Interest by Greensboro Attorney and former State Senator Don Vaughan

HERE

Bill would weaken neighbors’ ability to fight zoning changes, by Charlotte Observer

HERE

Bill could hinder neighbors ability to fight stores, businesses, WSOC tv in Charlotte

HERE

Protest petition quietly put to death amidst sweeping GOP changes, Yes! Weekly Jordan Green

HERE

Bill Would Eliminate A Tool Neighbors Have To Fight Zoning Changes, WFAE radio in Charlotte

HERE

Protest Pinched, Greensboro News and Record Editorial

HERE

We also have our local TREBIC Cartel attorney Tom Terrell NC Legal Landscapes who works for the developers who I just heard is going to have this blog post as a opinion piece in Sunday's Greensboro News and Record with a post titled, Legislative Update – Protest Petitions Killed . . . Finally

HERE

SAVE THE BEST FOR LAST

Greensboro Mayor Robbie Perkins Plays Fast And Loose With Protest Petition Facts , Billy Jones East Greensboro Performing Arts Center blog

HERE

Finally a Local News Station with a Report on Protest Petition WXII 12 , Where is Fox 8 and News 2

Had a blog post the other day in regards to where was our local media in reporting to the citizens in the Triad to the repeal of Protest Petition by a bunch of crony capitalist who want to reduce the bargaining power of neighborhoods in regards to rezoning cases all over this state.

Well now we have WXII Channel 12 in Bill O'Neill










who came by to interview me in regards to this issue since me and a big group of citizens in Greensboro fought very hard to get this back to the citizens of Greensboro to see them totally want to repeal the whole statute from the laws 4 years later.

Here is the video and post titled BILL WOULD ELIMINATE PROTEST PETITION

Thanks for the interview and to talk about this issue and as we speak this bill has been referred back to the rules committee in N.C Senate and hopefully it will stay there and not get out to vote on this bill before the end of session.

I can still hear birds chirping at Fox 8 and News 2 where are you?

Jul 11, 2013

Jul 10, 2013

President Elect for Local Realtors Group Wants To Deny Greensboro Citizens The Right To Protest Petition

On Monday 3-28-2011 there was a joint session of the Regulatory Reform Committee meeting at the campus of Guilford Tech . Community College. While looking at my twitter account i came across this tweet by Greensboro News and Record state and federal government reporter Mark Binker which he had this to say,


"TREBIC out in force at #ncga Reg Reform committee asking for repeal of protest petition rules. #GSO just got it back a couple years ago."
Here is a link to Mark Binker's twitter account CLICKHERE

The TREBIC in the post belongs to the Triad Real Estate and Building Industry Coalition our local developer lobbyist organization. It is amazing to think that it hasn't even been 2 years and they are already whining and complaining to the state about this law. To also understand that the citizens of Greensboro have been getting screwed for the past 30 years of not having this state law and we are only going on 2 years of finally having it be a part of the zoning laws to see them complain to the regulatory commission is ridiculous.

 We also have a blog post from Jordan Green at Yes Weekly on this meeting here is what Jordan had to say.




" Lolita Malave, president-elect of the Greensboro Regional Realtors Association, asked the General Assembly to repeal the protest petition, which allows neighboring property owners to trigger a requirement of a 75 percent majority vote for approval of a rezoning request if they file a valid protest petition.



“It is easier to change the US Constitution that it is to rezone your property under the protest petition,” Malave said. “The US Constitution can be changed with a simple-majority vote of the people or a two-thirds majority vote of Congress. By contrast, the owner of 5 percent of the land within 100 feet of a proposed land rezoning project can trigger a requirement for more than a super-majority vote. That equates to more than 75 percent of voters. It is absurd and unfair that such a small number of citizens can and do decide the fate of many.”


One speaker echoed Malave’s appeal, while another spoke in defense of the protest petition.


here is a link to the whole article CLICKHERE

 We also have  our local Greensboro City Council Member Zack Matheny talk about Protest Petition in a council meeting last year here is the clip;












Now we have a local city council member talk about how they are frustrated with Protest Petition being a part of the zoning process and this was over a year ago that the councilman talked about this, then we see this year they go in front of a regulatory commission meeting to let them know how they feel and want it repealed. With this being said it shows to all the citizens of Greensboro that this law is working for it's purpose and needs to stay a part of the process. 

It is time to let our local state representatives know how you feel about Protest Petition and to say to them keep this a state law and it should stay that way.


Here is a link to all of our local representatives if you would like to say to them "KEEP PROTEST PETITION AS STATE LAW".

STATE SENATE SIDE

Don Vaughan CLICKHERE
Gladys Robinson CLICKHERE
Phil Berger CLICKHERE
Stan Bingham CLICKHERE

STATE HOUSE SIDE

John Blust CLICKHERE
Maggie Jeffus CLICKHERE
Pricey Harrison CLICKHERE
Marcus Brandon CLICKHERE
John Faircloth CLICKHERE
Alme Adams CLICKHERE

You can also let the Regulatory Reform Commission know how you feel as well by filling out this form on the state web site  CLICKHERE

May 17, 2012

Protest Petition Used in Kernersville Against Land Where Guilford County Schools Want a New High School

HAT TIP RHINO TIMES with this post in regards to a rezoning case in Kernersville . The article is titled "Schools Rebuked By Kernersville" written by Paul Clark CLICKHERE
In the article was this

"Colfax resident Garland Stack, whose property adjoins the TDO land, organized a protest petition against the rezoning request. Hatling said that 23 of 29 qualifying property owners, or 79 percent, signed the protest petition – far more than needed for the petition to succeed. Stack said he isn't even done getting signatures.

A successful protest petition requires a three-quarters supermajority of the Kernersville Board of Aldermen to approve the rezoning request when the aldermen consider the Planning Board's recommendation. There are five aldermen, so four aldermen would have to vote in favor of the rezoning request"


Nice to see our neighbors to the west of us the Protest Petition in rezoning cases.  

May 16, 2012

Protest Petition Filed and Not Needed in Case in Front of Greensboro City Council on May 15, 2012

On May 15, 2012 the Greensboro City Council had a new agenda item for a rezoning case with a valid Protest Petition added to the agenda. Below is the item in front of council.

24. Ordinance rezoning from R-3 (Residential-Single Family) to CD-RM-18 (Conditional District – Residential Multi Family) property located at 2823 Randleman Road, generally described as east of Randleman Road and north of Apple Ridge Court.

(Council District: 1) (roll call vote) (Attachment #24 (PL(Z) 12-04).

It was amazing to see the whole Greensboro City Council along with the Zoning Commission and also the Greensboro City staff all said that this did not fit in with the area. They voted 9-0 to DENY the rezoning. This site plan next to a residential neighborhood was a no brainer to vote for a denial on this rezoning it is hard to see that with no from zoning and staff that they would appeal to the Greensboro City Council but the applicant did just that to his detriment. This was a win for the neighborhood and good to see the Protest Petition used .

Jan 13, 2012

Protest Petition for Greensboro on Agenda for Greensboro City Council Meeting on January 17, 2012




On the agenda for the Greensboro City Council January 17, 2012 meeting


21. Ordinance rezoning from R-5 (Residential-Single Family) to CD-RM-18 (Conditional District – Residential Multi Family) for property located at 3711-R1 Mosby Drive. (Council District: 5) (roll call vote) (Attachment #21 (PL(Z)11-19) to Councilmembers) THIS ITEM WAS CONTINUED FROM THE DECEMBER 13, 2011 MEETING OF COUNCIL WITHOUT FURTHER ADVERTISING. A VALID PROTEST PETITION HAS BEEN FILED WITH THE CITY CLERK.

It will be a interesting case to see what the new council thinks of this rezoning case.  Will update this post with the vote from council

Dec 23, 2011

Guilford County Uses Protest Petition Against City of High Point and Wins


Hat Tip:Rhino Times Paul Clark with a title of article "Council Allows Hinkley Hotel"

In the article this is what was written


"Guilford County filed its protest petition twice – on Dec. 13, signed by Guilford County Manager Brenda Jones Fox and on Dec. 14 signed by Chairman of the Guilford County Commissioners Skip Alston, before the Board of Commissioners voted to authorize the petition – something the High Point City Council could have challenged, but didn't.

"We don't believe it, but we're recognizing the county's protest petition," High Point Mayor Becky Smothers said. "We don't need to get into a lawsuit with y'all."

After a nearly five-hour public hearing and debate, Smothers could muster only five votes to rezone the 91.5 acres, but not the supermajority of seven votes needed because of the county protest petition. Barring an upset bid by another developer, the sale by Guilford County to GEO Care should go through.

It seemed fairly clear before the meeting that Smothers didn't have the required supermajority, but the addition of three new councilmembers last year upset old voting blocs and has made City Council debates less certain and more interesting. In addition, the City Council chamber was standing room only, and members of the audience leaned against the walls.

The debate showed the wide divide between High Point's two classes: the political and business class, which is dominated by developers and property managers, and its working class, which is made up primarily of former furniture plant and textile mill workers. The developers and politicians are focused on the long-term development and improvement of High Point, but the working class neighborhoods are desperate for jobs and unwilling to pass them up based on promises of better development in the future."

This is great to see more people understand and use the protest petition in zoning cases. It is odd to see the owner of the property use the protest petition because usually it is the adjoining property owners who want to object to a certain property being rezoned for usually a commercial or higher residential uses. This case might get more scrutiny because just this past week we have both the county and the City of Greensboro want to extend water and sewer to over 9,000 acres in eastern Guilford County which means more residential development being rezoned from agriculture. The use of protest petition is only allowed in municipalities but with a bill getting passed in the state legislature we could see in future a place where the whole citizens of Guilford County can use the protest petition in zoning cases .

Dec 15, 2011

Guilford County Manager Fox Uses Protest Petition Against the City of High Point

Hat Tip : Paul Clark from Rhino Times

Rhino Times is reporting today in a new front page article titled "County Protest Petitions Abound" CLICKHERE

It is very unusual to see the owners of the property file a protest petition especially when the owner is you and i who live in Guilford County. Paul Clark talks about the whole situation involving land that Guilford County owns and wants to sell to a company from Florida to have a secured mental hospital.

 below from Rhino:
The hand-delivered protest petition was signed only by Guilford County Manager Brenda Jones Fox. But Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston, on Wednesday, Dec. 14, said he would sign another copy on Wednesday and seek the approval of the Board of Commissioners at its Thursday, Dec. 15 meeting.

"That's right," Alston said. "I'm going down there to sign it myself shortly. We thought she could do it as manager, but to be on the safe side, I'm going down there to sign it myself. I'm doing it on behalf of the county."

Alston said the protest petition had to be turned in to the High Point Planning and Development Department by 5 p.m. on Wednesday to meet a deadline of two business days before the High Point City Council meeting.

The Fox-signed protest petition shows every sign of being hurriedly prepared. It is accompanied only by a cover letter by Guilford County Attorney Mark Payne and contains no supporting material other than a copy of the state requirements for a protest petition.

State law allows the owner of at least 20 percent of the land to be rezoned to file a protest petition; Alston said the two county parcels involved add up to 24 percent of the land that would be rezoned 
.
This make for a interesting situation in Guilford County because now they have set them up for a group of people to maybe in future try to make the whole county have to abide by the protest petition just like other municipalities all over the state do it might just be time for the counties all over the state as well to abide by the protest petition

We have counties like Durham who use the protest petition for the whole county and looking at what the Guilford County Commissioners did in regards to this situation in High Point it might be something to consider in the future for the residents of Guilford County. Could we see a protest petition for Guilford County in the future? Maybe just like some people told us we would not get protest petition for Greensboro do not underestimate us on this situation.

Also we have the Greensboro News and Record who has a post out as well CLICKHERE