Dec 29, 2008
Below is what was written about Protest Petitions for Greensboro
10 questions with Keith Brown here is the link CLICKHERE
Greensboro News and Record Capital Beat Reporter Mark Binker here is the link CLICKHERE
Below is the quote in paper
"Outside the budget, legislators will find themselves dealing with a number of issues of particular importance to Greensboro and the area.
Two of the most high-profile: Greensboro politicians are discussing returning the power of protest petitions to the city. Such petitions allow neighbors to make it more difficult to develop or redevelop a piece of property by forcing a super-majority of the City Council to approve land-use changes.Vaughan and Rep. Pricey Harrison have expressed interest and have said they would work to return the power to Greensboro's citizens. " Note the other issue is called Jordan Lakes Rules.
Then Lead Editorial with the title called " Editorial: An early line on 2009" , had this to say
" The legislature restores Greensboro citizens' right to file protest petitions in rezoning cases -- but it turns out that all proposed new development projects please everyone."
Now that is funny about the proposed development. Go ask the neighborhood near Elm Street and Cornwallis about pleasing them on that zoning case.
Here is the link to that article CLICKHERE
Dec 28, 2008
I was asked to come in for an interview to talk about the issues and how I got started on my local blogs . It is with great thanks that I want everyone who has helped me along the way on these 2 blogs Triadwatch and Protest Petitions for Greensboro .
Below is the whole article for all to see.
10 PLUS QUESTIONS FOR KEITH BROWN
If you are thinking about running for office in Guilford County, you might want to start reading Keith Brown's blogs. That's because the Greensboro native and current High Point resident has made it his business to investigate area power brokers.In his blog Triad Watch, he has taken on developers and uncovered incomplete campaign finance reports from local pols. His other blog, Protest Petition for Greensboro, advocates for a statute that requires a super majority to approve zoning cases when abutters don't approve.Brown sat down with reporter Amanda Lehmert to talk about his work as a watchdog.
Q. Why did you start blogging?
A. There was a rezoning case off Friendly Avenue. It was such a controversial case, I think it barely passed City Council, and Robbie Perkins was the deciding vote on that case. I said, "Listen, this is unfair to the citizens of Greensboro. They need to have the right to have a protest petition like everyone else." A lot of the bloggers started to get into it. That was the next avenue. You need to get a blog.
Q. When did you start protestpetitiongreensboro.blogspot.com?
A. I started the protest petition blog back in February 2008.
Q. What about your other blog, triadwatch.blogspot.com?
A. Triad Watch came about because I pigeonholed myself into the protest petition blog. So if I ever wanted to write about any other avenue - for example transparency in government, Heart of the Triad, rezoning cases - I couldn't write about it on a protest petition blog.
Q. What makes blogging a good format for you?
A. I think there are a lot of issues out there that places like the Greensboro News & Record won't write about. For example, the campaign contributions is the big thing I am into. I look at the lax reporting of a lot of people from Guilford County on their campaign contributions.
Q. How do you research campaign contributions?
A. You can go on the Guilford County Board of Elections Web site and actually see who is giving campaign contributions. You can really see who are the movers and the shakers in town and who is giving money to who. That's what I really want to report about.
Q. Right now you have a letter out to the state Board of Elections questioning a local campaign finance report. How did that come about? What were you looking for and what did you find?
A. I was just looking at the Simkins PAC (political action committee). ... One of the things I noticed was there was a $5,000 contribution from Action Greensboro, and that was reported under individual contributions in the Sim kins PAC.You have to wonder, why do they give a $5,000 contribution to the Sim kins PAC? It was because they wanted all those (Greensboro 2008) bonds to pass, I'm sure. That was one of those things that I thought, this isn't right because it was under individual contributions. I am trying to figure out , can Action Greensboro, as a nonprofit, give money to a political action committee? Second of all, I would like to know, why was that labeled under individual contributions?
Q. What other kinds of issues have you uncovered in the campaign finance reports?
A. (County Commissioner Skip Alston's second quarter report) had nine contributions and they had nothing underneath for job profession or where they worked. Some didn't even have an address under there. The North Carolina general statute states that you have to have name, address and who their employer is. It's called transparency in government. We have to know who these people are and who they are giving to. Do they have a zoning case in front of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners? It's not just Skip Alston . Larry Proctor (who ran for at-large commissioner) is another. (County Commissioner) Paul Gibson was another one.
Q. Who has done a good job filling out their paperwork?
A. Kirk Perkins was a gold star Guilford County commissioner. He had everything. There was not one thing wrong with his campaign contributions. I don't see why they can't do the same thing Kirk Perkins did. He's his own campaign treasurer. So if anyone wants to learn, learn from him.
Q. How did you become interested in doing this kind of investigative work?
A. There was that (Society of Professional Journalists) Citizen Journalism Academy. I did go to that. One of the main things I got out of it was (learning about) the Freedom of Information Act.
Q. As a High Point resident, why are you so interested in things that happen in Greensboro?
A. I have lived here my whole life. I grew up here. There are things I want to do in High Point, too. I want to see a city like High Point, which is in the top 10 in the state, actually come into the year 2009 and start videotaping their City Council meetings.High Point needs that because nobody goes to the meetings.
Dec 2, 2008
Here is what Mayor Johnson had to say,"There has been several calls about Protest Petition and a lot of people thought it would be on in January and I would like to know if you had a problem having it on the agenda for January 21, 2009.Is that all right that we do that a number of people had called and I got the message that many of them thought that it would be on in January and I think we need the time to really get a good history of how this started, what's different,what we are doing is it marketability different etc. etc.. All in favor say I and nobody was opposed."
If you as citizens of Greensboro don't think you need Protest Petitions , all you need to do is know that the special interest group Triad Real Estate and Building Industry Coalition are fighting this issue tooth and nail on bringing back Protest Petitions to the zoning process and deny you as a citizen the right to a Protest Petition in the zoning process.
As a Triad resident it is amazing to know that there is a North Carolina General Statute 160a-385 and 386 where every city in the state of North Carolina abides by this city general statute except Greensboro . This means that if you want to fight a zoning case and are none too happy with the case brought before the city council that every other city can bring to the council a valid Protest Petition from High Point to Summerfield to Jamestown to Pleasant Garden to Kernersville to Raleigh to Charlotte and let's add Murphy to Manteo but not Greensboro.
You might not think or know much about Protest Petitions or how they effect me in the zoning process until it happens to your neighborhood. There has been plenty of rezoning cases just in the past year and the past month and even next month where it seems like neighbors in Grensboro and Greensboro only where having a Protest Petition would have been warranted and used for numerous reasons.
For example it looks like neighbors off of cornwallis and elm streets are none too happy with this rezoning case coming in front of the zoning commission CLICKHERE , and a local blogger by the name of David Wharton had this to say at Ed Cone's blog, "And yes, Keith, I do support the protest petition, and think it would be very useful in this situation!"Thanks Mr. Wharton for the endorsement of bringing back Protest Petitions to Greensboro.
This blog cannot stress enough how important it is to show up in force at the Greensboro City Council meeting on January 21, 2009 to show support and speak to the council how you feel.
But if you can't show up please either e-mail the Greensboro City Council CLICKHERE , or call Mayor Yvonne Johnson at 336-373-2396 or CLICKHERE for the Mayor's information.
BRING BACK PROTEST PETITIONS TO GREENSBORO
Nov 26, 2008
Greensboro City Council Has Protest Petition on Legislative Agenda for 2009 but Coalition wants a Delay
This is great news and not so great news because our coalition is wanting to postpone this item till January 20, 2009 so that we can speak to the Greensboro City Council members about how important this is to the citizens of Greensboro. When the Greensboro City Council had a briefing on November 11, 2008 one of the items was the legislative agenda for 2009. In that briefing there was not a mention of bringing back Protest Petitions to Greensboro. Let's proceed to Monday November 24, 2008 late in day we get word that Protest Petitions is on the agenda for the next Greensboro City Council meeting.
As we can see this news came right before the thanksgiving holidays with no time to prepare our case to the Greensboro City Council members. So we are wanting to delay this item till January 20, 2009. Our coalition has been in contact with a host of people on this issue and would like to present our case with full support of many people in Greensboro and it would not happen if we have to do this next Tuesday.
It is time for the people of Greensboro to make a statement to the Greensboro City Council members that you want Protest Petitions back in the zoning process, 37 years is long enough. Please contact your Greensboro City Council members which can be done by clicking on the item to the left hand side of this blog.
It would be beneficial to also e-mail, call or write you state representatives on this issue. You can reach the whole Guilford County delegation by going to the left hand side of this blog and click on each representative to let them know this.
"BRING BACK PROTEST PETITIONS TO GREENSBORO"
Have a HAPPY THANKSGIVING
Nov 14, 2008
Greensboro residents want rights on zoningBy Keith Brown
Thursday, May. 15, 2008 3:00 am
The N.C. General Assembly can create new law and destroy old law. Cities such as Greensboro are subject to those laws, unless state legislators allow an exception.
In 1971, local elected officials supported a bill under a cloud of politics to exempt Greensboro from N.C. General Statutes 160a-385 and 386, which created what formally is called a "protest petition." This exemption never should have been made in the first place and is bad public policy.
Protest petitions are used if a certain percentage of property owners most affected by a zoning change object to the rezoning. These residents may petition for a super-majority vote of at least 7-2 to approve the rezoning if the council has 9 members.
Protest petitions level the playing field for residents, especially when pro-development members of the City Council are making rezoning decisions.
Professor David Owens of the UNC School of Government says, "The provision in North Carolina zoning law for a protest petition is mandatory for cities." His use of the word "mandatory" demonstrates that Greensboro is not following a law every other city must follow. As stated before, the General Assembly can destroy old law, and this exemption is definitely old law.
To hear Gary Rogers from the Triad Real Estate and Building Industry Coalition (TREBIC) say that Greensboro, back in 1971, had the foresight to exempt itself from this statute is condescending to citizens here. No, Mr. Rogers, it was not foresight. It was an effort to take away a right of the citizens to use the power of petitions against unwanted development in established neighborhoods.
Those who oppose protest petitions in Greensboro say they would discourage in-fill development. They say the current exemption aids growth, and not having the exemption would hurt growth.Yet Raleigh and Charlotte have protest petitions, and both have grown faster than Greensboro since the exemption has been in effect.
Because I live in High Point, my neighborhood had the right to use a protest petition against a major developer not once, but twice, in a highly contested rezoning case off N.C. 68. I'm certain Greensboro citizens also would like to have this powerful tool as their voice against encroaching development.
Why not let the Guilford County legislative delegation push a bill to make the city of Greensboro comply with this state law? This would give Greensboro residents the same right as other North Carolina residents who live in cities.
Thirty-seven years is long enough. Let your state legislators know you would like to have protest petitions back in Greensboro.
I will leave you with a quote from a Greensboro resident who said it well: "It's time that citizens had a way to stop the business-as-usual crowd from developing our quality of life out of existence."
Keith Brown lives in High Point and is a member of the Coalition of Concerned Citizens of The Triad.
Nov 10, 2008
2 Questions on Rezoning Protest Petitions:
1- Do any of you cities NOT have protest petitions?
2 For those of you who have them, if your “protester” criteria is different from “5% of owners within 100 feet” , what is it?
3 If you have an experienced opinion/example about the pros and cons and are willing to share it, please do.
As you can see Marlene Sanford has already started trying to find answers from N.C. Planners all over this state.Let me help you out in answering these questions you have posted on the list serve.
Question #1 is NO , Greensboro is the only city that doesn't abide by this North Carolina General Statute and it is time for that to change in 2009
Question #2 is NO, This is a North Carolina General Statute nobody has their own version of Protest Petition but Greensboro who got exempted from this bill 37 years ago under a cloud of who knows what happened, and it is time for that to change in 2009.
Question #3 here is your experienced opinion, our Neighborhood in High Point had the right to use Protest Petitions in a major rezoning case and for the citizens of Greensboro to not have Protest Petitions is a total injustice to them.Go ask Blue Ridge Companies.
Let me give TREBIC a few pointers. If you want to take on this fight to deny the citizens of Greensboro this North Carolina General Statute go right ahead. We already know about your modus operandi with your mass e-mail to the State Legislators back in May 2008, CLICKHERE to see the annotated letter. Your efforts will be watched by many and reported by me. So in the end it should be in your best interest to let a bill get passed to let the citizens of Greensboro use Protest Petitions in zoning cases all over this great city and if you fight this bill than you will feel the repercussions for a very long time.Take your pick.
Sep 29, 2008
Faced with the inevitabliity of defeat, the developer came before the City Council last Tuesday and withdraw the proposal. However, this is not necessarily the end of it. They can come back to the Zoning Commission for a Supplementary Use Permit (SUP) to build the event center. Should they do so, we will have to once again martial our resources and show our government that we don't want to have such a development in our neighborhood.
Please keep an eye on New Garden Road and report any signs of development or zoning actions at the event center site, or elsewhere between Brassfield and Jefferson (the rest of the road is, alas, lost). You can contact us at email@example.com, and check our website for updates at friendsofnewgarden.org.
Sep 16, 2008
As reported before on this site CLICKHERE . There is a serious aspect of zoning cases that needs to be addressed for all of the citizens of Greensboro to know about. Every other city in this state abides by a North Carolina General Statute 160 a 385 and 386 which is called Protest Petitions. This blog is dedicated to informing the citizens of Greensboro on how they are getting screwed in zoning cases all over this city.
A great example was seeing the friends of new garden CLICKHERE fight this rezoning case. But I am sure that if you had the Protest Petition to use in this case as seen by how many neighbors were against this rezoning case . This case would have never been put on the docket to begin with.
It is time for neighborhoods all over Greensboro to get involved and e mail your Greensboro City Council to bring back Protest Petitions to Greensboro.
Sep 15, 2008
City of Greensboro Thanks Delegation for 2008 Session, Let's See If They Do The Same In 2009 with Protest Petitions
Here is the kicker that will play out for all to see once the 2009 session begins on this quote in the City of Greensboro's Resolution for 2008. "WHERERAS, the delegation is to be commended for it's assistance in helping the city achieve the City Council's goals in the interest of it's citizens.
In regards to bringing back Protest Petitions to the citizens of Greensboro. Let's see if this statement above will ring true for the Greensboro City Council in 2009. Are they going to let the citizens have this North Carolina General Statute like every other city has the right to use. Or are they going to be on the side of the special interest which in this case is the TREBIC CARTEL.
In the next few months you will see the City of Greensboro start to work on their agenda and if bringing back Protest Petitions is not on that list of items for 2009, it will be a total injustice to the citizens of Greensboro for this not to happen.
I urge everyone to let your state and local politicians know that you want Protest Petitions back in Greensboro. There are a few races in the State House who need to know how you feel . Don Vaughan CLICKHERE and Joe Wilson CLICKHERE these 2 are going for N.C.Senate Seat 27. Also Maggie Jeffus CLICKHERE and Jim Rumley CLICKHERE are vying for House District 59.
It is also time to let your Greensboro City Council know that you want Protest Petitions back in the zoning process like every other city in this state. CLICKHERE to e-mail the whole Greensboro City Council.
Sep 3, 2008
Coalition of Concerned Citizens of The Triad
Vested Interest = The Citizens of Greensboro who are getting screwed in the zoning process because they don't have the right to use Protest Petition like every other city in this state has the right to do.
Vested Interest= Triad Real Estate and Building Industry Coalition aka TREBIC CARTEL, NAI Piedmont Triad, Silver Member , or CLICKHERE to see 2007 campaign contributions
While you are at it Robbie Perkins , let's see where you stand on bringing back Protest Petitions to Greensboro. Will the City Council vote on the issue? There are plenty of vested interest or I like to call them CITIZENS OF GREENSBORO who want to see where you stand on the issue of bringing back Protest Petitions to Greensboro.
Aug 29, 2008
A new neighborhood organization was formed to fight this rezoning case CLICKHERE , it is time to make a stance to the Greensboro City Council and to say to them it is a total injustice to the citizens of Greensboro that they don't have the right to use a Protest Petition in the zoning process. This case is a great example of this, plus to see the total destruction of garden lake road and new garden road and the creeping in to that neighborhood from a controversial rezoning case. BRING BACK PROTEST PETITIONS TO GREENSBORO.
Stop the Rezoning of New Garden Road
SAVE THE DATE
Tuesday, September 16
5:30 (get there early for a seat)
Please join us at the City Council Chambers, Melvin Municipal Building , to protest the rezoning of 1807 and 1809 New Garden Road from residential to commercial zoning.
The owner wants to build an events center in our residential neighborhood, bringing great noise, more traffic and a huge building and parking lot in a residential neighborhood.
For more information or to sign the letter of protest:
Aug 26, 2008
A rezoning request heard by Greensboro City Council on Feb. 1, 1971 was so controversial that a local lawyer asked Mayor Jack Elam if the meeting could be moved to a larger room to accommodate an overflow crowd stuck outside of council chambers.
Nine residents of Quaker Acres and other neighborhoods spoke in opposition to Maralee Development Corp.’s plan to build apartments north of Friendly Avenue near Guilford College. If that line of defense were breached, opponents argued in language evocative of the 1781 stand by patriotic militias against General Lord Cornwallis, multi-family development might creep further north, overtaking Horsepen Creek and even Carlson Farms.
The neighbors had a powerful weapon at their disposal: a protest petition that, with the signatures of 5 percent of adjacent property owners, allowed them to force the council to muster a 75 percent “supermajority” to approve the rezoning. Noting at the start of the hearing that the petitions had been found sufficient, Elam explained that the seven-member board would need six affirmative votes to approve the rezoning.
An act by the NC General Assembly before the month was out would strip residents of the protest petition, amending the city charter to exempt Greensboro from a law followed to this day by all seven of the state’s largest municipalities: Charlotte, Raleigh, Durham, Winston-Salem, Fayetteville, Wilmington and Asheville.
Few in Greensboro appear to have been aware of North Carolina general statute 160A-385(a), which requires the 75 percent supermajority for approval in cases where neighbors formalize their opposition — or the fact the city was exempt by the authority of 1971 session law. That is, until Councilman Tom Phillips questioned whether the provision could apply to a controversial rezoning request heard by the zoning commission last year that would have allowed commercial development at the intersection of Lawndale Drive and Lake Jeanette Road. The request was made on behalf of three individuals employed by real estate company NAI Piedmont Triad. One of them, Robbie Perkins, was elected to city council last November. Phillips was unable to persuade his colleagues to support a repeal of the city charter amendment.
“It’s just another tool to give surrounding neighbors,” said Phillips, who has since retired from the council. “It doesn’t stop development. It just requires a supermajority. I haven’t seen a good reason not to have it. If it’s good enough for the rest of the state, it’s good enough for us.”
Talk of reinstating the protest petition arose recently during a contentious rezoning request earlier this month in which Perkins cast a tie-breaking vote to allow a politically connected developer to build three-story apartments south of West Friendly Avenue. The request was defeated by the zoning commission, and then came before the council on appeal. The 5-3 vote would not have met the 75 percent threshold required for approval had Greensboro been subject to the protest petition statute.
The reasons the council of 1970-’71 requested that the General Assembly exempt Greensboro from the protest petition remain murky. Among several players interviewed, including former NC Rep. Henry E. Frye, former Mayor Jack Elam, former Mayor Pro Tem Jim Melvin and former Planning Director Charles E. Mortimore, only one person, former City Attorney Skip Warren, indicated he was familiar with the provision.
Warren said he thought another North Carolina municipality might have previously lobbied to have the protest petition enacted as state law, and that Greensboro’s exemption had represented a return to the status quo. A 2006 treatise by David W. Owens, a professor at the Institute of Government in Chapel Hill with expertise in zoning and in city and county planning, suggests otherwise. Owens writes that the provision for a protest petition was included in New York state’s 1916 zoning ordinance, the first comprehensive law in the nation. North Carolina followed suit in 1923.
“Neither landowner nor neighbors can be given a veto over proposed zoning changes,” Owens wrote. “Yet from the outset of local land use regulation, its proponents have concluded that those most directly affected by zoning need a degree of protection from unwanted changes in the land use policies that have relied upon.”
In any case, Warren said he thought the supermajority requirement was too burdensome.
“When you’re acting in a legislative capacity, even with Congress the higher standard is two-thirds as far as [overriding a] veto is concerned,” he said. “We felt that that wasn’t really intended for Greensboro. It was intended for some other municipality.”
While acknowledging that Greensboro was not unique in 1971 in having a council comprised of seven members, Warren said the protest petition provision “gave two members of your council veto power, which could be a bad thing.” Warren said he could not recall whether the request to amend the city charter was made at the initiative of a particular council member or a staff member.
“I was responsible for drawing up the legislative program,” the former city attorney said. “We developed our legislative program based on suggestions and recommendations and other things. Back then there were some legal technicalities that needed to be clarified. Then we presented our program to city council. It would have been in a briefing that reporters could attend.”
Council approved the legislative program unanimously four days before Christmas 1970. Meeting minutes reflect no discussion.
Frye, the former House representative, said typically the city council would meet with the Guilford County delegation and give them a list of bills they wanted introduced, “and unless there was some really strong objection in the delegation, we would designate somebody to file the bills that they suggested.” He said he had no recollection of the city charter amendment enacted in the 1971 session law.
Warren said there was no particular rezoning case that propelled the city charter amendment through the General Assembly.
“The word ‘urgency’ doesn’t even apply,” he said.
While no one has owned up to a personal interest in exempting the city from the protest petition, council minutes and contemporaneous newspaper accounts suggest that Greensboro land-use politics in the late 1960s and early ’70s were a stew of political connections, alleged and real conflicts of interest, and passionate neighborhood opposition to multi-family residential development.
Both the city’s daily newspapers, the ***Greensboro Daily News*** and the ***Greensboro Record*** carried stories in the first week of January 1971about an announcement by Mayor Elam that he had found no impropriety on the part of any city official in a 1969 rezoning case that allowed Urban Systems Development Corp. to move forward with plans to build single and multi-family housing in northeast Greensboro. Neighbors had fought the rezoning, the ***Record*** noted; its morning competitor reported that an allegation of a council member holding ownership of the subject property surfaced in a lawsuit involving the developer.
Elam himself abstained from a vote taken on Feb. 1, 1971 request by an unnamed applicant to rezone property at the southeast intersection of Yanceyville Street and Cone Boulevard for public housing because of “a personal interest.” That request also met opposition from neighbors whose protest petitions were found to be sufficient. The request went down in defeat by a vote of 5 to 1.
In another case, involvement by an elected official in a rezoning matter was more direct, although not legally a conflict of interest. Rep. W. Marcus Short, Frye’s colleague in the House, appealed a decision by the zoning commission to deny his request to rezone property at the southwest corner of Cornwallis Drive and Battleground Avenue. Again, protest petitions by neighborhood opponents were found to be sufficient and the 75 percent supermajority came into play. Short requested a continuance and the request was defeated unanimously two weeks later.
No rezoning battle raised the social temperature higher in the first two months of 1971 than the request by the Maralee Development Corp. to rezone property purchased from the Coble and Ballenger families north of Friendly Avenue between King George Drive and Stage Coach Trail. Although a protest petition had been found sufficient, Elam would say 37 years later that he had no recollection of the tool being used by opponents. Warren, the former city attorney, would say that to his knowledge the case had no influence on the city’s successful efforts to do away with the protest petition.
And yet Elam’s comments at the outset of the hearing revealed a tension in city land-use politics: Both commercial pressures on individual members’ decisions and opposition by neighbors appeared to bear an impact on the council’s land-use decisions.
“The mayor further stated that the council is far from satisfied with the zoning process itself; that the council often finds itself in the position of having pressure applied by people who are in a position to make money simply because of rezoning, and at the same time, facing the ire of people who have moved into areas expecting the zoning to remain the same and finding that there is a movement afoot to rezone; that some members of the council feel that this matter can be better handled by zoning well in advance of development so that anyone moving into the area will know just what the zoning will be,” the meeting minutes read. “The mayor stated that no conclusion has been reached with regard to this matter but that he wanted those present to know that the council was concerned.”
Whether or not the protest petition was part of the council’s dissatisfaction with the zoning process, the provision would be eliminated in Greensboro in a little over three weeks by an act of the General Assembly.
Minutes reflect that John Russell, the development company’s president, told the council that “the land was not purchased with this project in mind, but that after study it was determined that there was a need for quality multi-family housing and that this would be the highest and best use of the land.”
The rezoning request was doomed; council voted unanimously to defeat it on Feb. 1. When Russell asked that council reconsider the request on March 1, it failed by a 4-3 vote, with Elam joining the nay column.
Today, the councilmember most familiar with the protest petition is Robbie Perkins, who said he has encountered it in other North Carolina municipalities in his role as a real estate developer. He said he planned to consult with Warren to learn more about the reasons for Greensboro’s exemption.
“I think this is something that deserves debate,” he said. “The outcome of the debate is pending. I’m interested in doing my research before I take a position.”
Perkins pointed to several potential downsides of restoring the protest petition, including that it could discourage infill development.
“We’ve got to look at this closely before we go ahead and put a protest petition in place,” he said. “It may have some negative consequences as well. We have enough problems attracting investment. Do we want to make it that much harder? You’ve got big picture stuff…. We’ve got hit pretty good by job loss and loss of tax revenue. We need to think from a strategic point of view. How much leverage do you want to give that individual who lives next door?”
Mayor Yvonne Johnson said she was interested in learning why the city was exempted, but currently does not hold an opinion about whether Greensboro’s unique arrangement is preferable to the ground rules followed by other cities across the state.
Planning Director Dick Hails recently wrote to Keith Brown, a High Point man campaigning to restore the protest petition in Greensboro, that the idea had been proposed several times by council members in the past few years. “In each case,” he said, “there was not a sense that the majority of council wanted to pursue the matter, and there was not any follow up on the issue.”
Three other sitting council members — Sandra Anderson Groat, Dianne Bellamy-Small and Goldie Wells — indicated they would be hesitant to tinker with the current practice of approving controversial rezoning requests by a simple-majority vote.
At least one current member of the Guilford County legislative delegation has indicated sympathy with those who wish to restore the protest petition in Greensboro.
“I did not know about the protest petition exemption, but I see no merit in it if the rest of the state has similar relief,” Rep. Pricey Harrison wrote in a recent e-mail. She said she agreed with Phillips, the former Greensboro councilman “that if the infill proposal is a good one, it will win approval of the necessary majority. It is imperative, particularly in what is quickly becoming a carbon-constrained environment, that we adopt better land use management plans and stick to them.”
To comment on this story, e-mail Jordan Green at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aug 9, 2008
M E M O R A N D U M
DATE: August 1, 2008
TO: Mayor & City Council
FROM: Mitchell Johnson, City Manager
SUBJECT: ITEMS FOR YOUR INFORMATION
In response to City Council requests, I have attached memorandum and reports on the following items:
1. Update on Fire Department – I have attached memorandum from Deputy City Manager Robert Morgan that provides updated information on the Fire Study and Fire Chief recruitment.
2. Flexible Work Schedules – In recent months, the idea of providing for a more flexible work schedule has come from employees as well as citizens. We believe this policy will meet the need but I have asked each department head to make sure that we continue to provide service and accessibility consistent with our normal working hours. This attachment has been communicated to all Department Heads reviewing our established guidelines, through City Policies, of flexible work schedules. These policies could assist in addressing not only the City of Greensboro, but our employees’ use of the nation’s fuel resources.
3. Protest Petition – I have attached memorandum from Planning Director Dick Hails providing information related to Protest Petitions. The memorandum covers background information, issues and staff recommendations.
4. Streetlight Outage – There has been some discussion on how to handle the reporting and repair of Streetlights. Interim Transportation Director Adam Fischer has provided the attached information for your review. This information contains Greensboro Streetlight Outage Policy, a survey of other municipalities’ streetlight practices, and the most recent DPCO Thoroughfare Lighting Spreadsheet documenting outages. Also, Mr. David Montgomery with DPCO will be present at the August 4th, 2008, City Council meeting to address concerns.
Memorandum from Dick Hails Planning Director
July 24, 2008
Memo to: Mitchell Johnson, City Manager
From: Dick Hails, Planning Director
Subject: Information Related to Protest Petitions
Background – There has been much discussion within the Greensboro community in recent months about whether to reinstitute the protest petition provisions on rezonings in the City that were prohibited in 1970 by the General Assembly, at the request of the City Council. This memo reviews some of the issues associated with this zoning provision.
Protest petitions have been eligible for use by nearly all NC cities from the time of the original state zoning enabling act in 1923. The provisions in the General Statutes note that if a sufficient petition is filed, a ¾ majority vote of “all the members of the city council” is required for approval. This would have the effect of requiring the Greensboro City Council to cast at least 7 affirmative votes to pass any rezoning request, versus the 5 affirmative votes now required to approve a rezoning. Original zoning requests associated with annexations are exempt from protest petitions. A change to this prohibition to use protest petitions in Greensboro would require approval by the General Assembly.
Issues - The petition provision is generally mandatory for all NC cities and prohibited for all counties, unless an express exception is authorized by the General Assembly. This has occurred, for example, for the City of Greensboro (exempted) and the County of Durham (included). A memo from the City Attorney recently noted that this change was endorsed by City Council in 1970 and approved by the General Assembly in 1971. A 2008 School of Government report on zoning practices in the state notes that Greensboro’s exemption from these provisions is rare, and that there are very few other cities not authorized to use protest petitions.
However, the report also notes that there are limited direct impacts in different communities from protest petitions. The report tallied only about 5% of zoning decisions that had valid protest petitions received more than a simple majority but less than a ¾ majority vote. Rezonings approved by the Greensboro Council in the past year echo this trend, with no cases approved with a simple majority but not ¾ majority vote. The report also shows that protest petitions are utilized more in larger municipalities than in smaller ones.
The report notes, however, that there appear to be indirect impacts from such petitions, such as only a 52% approval rate reported for requests with protest petitions, as compared to a 76% approval for cases without such petitions. The presence of a protest petition option may also lead to greater amounts of communication between the requesting party and property owners surrounding the site on some rezonings.
The statutes lay out specific guidelines on how to judge a valid protest petition. Signatures of owners of either 20% of the subject property or 5% of property within 100 feet of the exterior of the subject property (not including public ROW’s) are necessary to validate a protest petition. Such petitions must be submitted at least two working days prior to the scheduled public hearing, to allow for adequate time for staff review and verification of the petitions.
Recommendation – Staff recommends that Council receive this report on various issues pertaining to use of protest petitions for the City of Greensboro.
It is great to see that someone at City Hall is wanting to get some information on Protest Petitions for Greensboro. One of the best observations from Planning Director Dick Hails is when he said this"The presence of a protest petition option may also lead to greater amounts of communication between the requesting party and property owners surrounding the site on some rezonings". That is precisely what our coalition has been pointing out and what has not been happening for well over 37 years in Greensboro. Also, Mr Hails states that Greensboro's exemption is rare. To say that it is rare is an understatement , how about a total injustice to the Citizens of Greensboro that might be a better statement.
It is time to see where the Greensboro City Council stands on this issue. In the following months they will start preparing for their legislative agenda for 2009 and bringing back Protest Petitions to Greensboro should be on the top of the agenda. But we will see if they want to be for the citizens of Greensboro or are they going to take the side of the special interest group called Triad Real Estate and Building Industry Coalition also known as the TREBIC CARTEL .
Time is now to understand what this means for you as a citizen of Greensboro and to write you Greensboro City Council to let them know how you feel.
Here is the link to e-mail your Greensboro City Council CLICKHERE
Below is the ordinance that Durham North Carolina uses for Protest Petitions
Durham City And County Unified Development Ordinance on Protest Petitions
20% or more of the area included in the proposed change or
5% of the area of a 100-foot wide buffer extending along the entire boundary of each discrete or separate area proposed to be rezoned. In evaluating the sufficiency of a protest under this provision:
A discrete or separate area shall be calculated for any non contiguous part of an area proposed for zoning map change that is physically separated from other areas proposed for change by property (not including right of way) that is not part of the requested zoning map change;
A street right of way shall not be considered in computing the 100 foot buffer area as long as the street right of way is 100 feet wide or less.
When less than an entire parcel of land is being rezoned, the 100 foot buffer shall be measured from the property line of the entire parcel.
Signatures of property owners comprising of 20% of either:
The area of the property under consideration; or
The area within 100 feet of either side or the rear of the subject property; or
The area directly across the street from the subject property and extending 100 feet from the street frontage of the properties across the street.
Other Required Information The petition shall contain all information required on the form supplied by the Planning Director or designee or the City Clerk or the Clerk to the Board of Commissioners, as appropriate.
A form for a protest petition shall be available from the Planning Director, or designee, or the City Clerk or the Clerk to the Board of Commissioners, as appropriate.
Completed petitions shall be submitted to the appropriate Clerk's office (City Clerk or Clerk to the Board of Commissioners) at least four working days prior to the day of the public hearing.
The Planning Director, or designee, in consultation with the Attorney for the jurisdiction shall determine if the petition meets the criteria for classification of "valid protest petition". The Clerk shall inform the governing body that a petition has been filed and indicate the determination by the Planning Director, or designee, whether the petition is valid or invalid. The Planning Director, or designee, shall notify the petitioner as to the validity of the protest petition.
Where a substantial modification to a zoning map change application that requires resubmission to the Planning Commission has been submitted, the Planning Director, or designee, shall notify the petitioner, in writing, that a new protest petition is required.
Petitions for zoning map change for which a protest petition has been determined to be valid shall require a ? vote of the governing body for approval rather than a simple majority. In the City, vacant positions on the Council and members who have been excused from voting because of a conflict of interest shall not be considered in computing Council membership.
Jul 22, 2008
Here is the results.
Protest Petition Information
In response to your questions I have found the
following information. Some information is not available and that fact
will be so indicated.
HISTORY OF THE EXEMPTION OF PROTEST PETITION FOR GREENSBORO
1. When and where was the meeting in 1971 held to request that
Greensboro be exempted from the protest petition?
Our Council Minutes reflect that the request for exemption was
included with the “Legislative Program” of the City Council which was
adopted by Council on 21 December 1970 at a regular meeting of the
Council which was at the old City Council meeting room. The meeting
room was in the Annex Building (210 Greene Street, now demolished) near
the corner of Gaston Street (now Friendly) and Greene Street. It was
called the Municipal Office Building, City Council Chamber, Room 204.
There were 15 different items listed on the Legislative Program. We did
not find any other previous reference to the exemption in the Minutes.
2. What City Council member(s) sponsored the bill?
The Motion to adopt the Legislative Program was made by Vance H.
Chavis. There is no recorded discussion in the
Minutes of any of the “Legislative Program” items. Of the seven members
on the Council at the time six were present and voted in favor of the
“Legislative Program.” W. L. Trotter, Jr.; Jimmie I. Barber; Vance H.
Chavis; H. J. Elam III; Charles W. Phillips, Jr.; and Mary P. Seymour.
E. S. (Jim) Melvin is listed as absent from the meeting at the time the
vote was taken but entered later.
3. What was the reason for requesting this bill?
As stated in the previous answer there was no recorded discussion
of the Legislative Program so the reasons behind the inclusion of the
exemption from the protest petition are not discernable. Different
Council Members may have had different reasons, but we are uninformed as
to what those reasons may have been.
4. Who sponsored the bill in the NC House of Representatives and
The Legislative Bill Research Division of the North Carolina
Legislature informs us that the Original Bill was introduced by Rep.
Henry Frye in the North Carolina House of Representatives.
5. Why weren't the people of Greensboro informed about the 37 year
absence of the protest petition rather than being informed thorough the
The Council Minutes reflect it in the Legislative Program adopted
at a regular Council meeting and the printed N. C. Legislative records
reflect its adoption as Session Law 1971, Chapter 29, on February 25,
1971. I cannot speak to what publicity, or lack thereof, this matter
received at the time it became effective or over the years.
6. Does a property owner with or without legal council, who brings a
zoning case before the City have the right to submit a valid protest
petition to Greensboro City Council? Can City Council honor the protest
Without repeal of Greensboro’s exemption from the protest petition
statute Greensboro has no authority to invoke the protest petition (that
is the 3/4’s vote) process.
7. No question numbered 7. was included in your e-mail.
There was no question numbered 7.
8. When does the Greensboro City Council's agenda for the NC General
Assembly long session begin? When does it have to be completed? When
will it be available to the public? Where is it made available to the
The 2009 session of the NC Legislature begins January 28, 2009. The
actual date when the requested legislation must be delivered to the
Legislature will not be set by the Legislature until a week or 10 days
after that when the Legislature sets its calendar. Council usually
begins to determine its Legislative Agenda about three or four months
prior to the January date. Most often it is initially presented and
discussed in “Briefing Sessions” held in the Plaza Level Conference room
in the Melvin Municipal Office Building. These briefing sessions are
open to the public but no final action may be taken at them by Council.
It will eventually be on a Regular Meeting agenda for further discussion
Our Council agendas, including Regular Meetings, Special Meetings and
Briefing Sessions are posted on the City’s website as soon as they are
available. Regular meetings are the first and third Tuesdays each month
and the briefing sessions are the fourth Tuesday of each month. That’s
the easiest way to keep track of the items being covered.
9. What is the position of Greensboro today to the protest petition?
This Office cannot comment on the City’s position since the City
Council would make that determination.
I hope this answers your questions and we appreciate your interest. We
do not have any further information. If you still desire to meet, or
discuss this matter, I will be happy to do so. Please give my Office a
call or e-mail me.
We would like to thank the City of Greensboro Attorney for answering our questions. The pressure needs to be put on the City of Greensboro to put this on the Legislative Agenda for the Long Session of the State Legislature starting in January of 2009. If the City of Greensboro does nothing on this isue it will be duly noted and if they want to see a major wedge issue for the fall of 2009 City elections let this issue linger even more.Our coalition is not going away and will get even bigger as time goes by.
Jul 17, 2008
Once the Rhinoceros Times has the updated edition of the paper online it will be linked.
There are somethings that can be done right now to further the progress of bringing back Protest Petitions to Greensboro.
Please e-mail, write, or call your State Representatives below. Let them know that you want Protest Petitions back in Greensboro.
Alma Adams Almaa@ncleg.netJohn Blust Johnbl@ncleg.netPricey Harrison Priceyh@ncleg.netMaggie Jeffus Maggiej@ncleg.netEarl Jones Earlj@ncleg.netLaura Wiley Lauraw@ncleg.netState SenateKatie Dorsett Katied@ncleg.net
also there are 2 people who are going to be vying for Kay Hagan's Senate seat District 27 , they are Joe Wilson click here and Don Vaughan click here
The City of Greensboro also needs to hear from their citizens, below is a link to the Greensboro e-mail center
Please e mail them to let them know you want Protest Petitions back in Greensboro .
Jul 15, 2008
This neighborhood off of Rehobeth Church Road argued their case a few months ago to not allow Keystone Realty to build another apartment complex next to their single family homes. Now with a few trees and a fence it is ok now.
If this rezoning case happened in any other city in this state of North Carolina , I am sure they would have used their right to a Protest Petition under North Carolina General Statute 160a-385 and 386. Since Greensboro exempted themselves from Protest Petitions but every other city abides by this law it is in you court to e-mail Dianne Bellamy-Small and Goldie Wells to let them know that this is not acceptable that every other city in this state has this right to a Protest Petition why not Greensboro
Please e-mail your Greensboro City Council to let them know that this is unacceptable and to say to them,"Bring Back Protest Petitions to Greensboro"
here is the link Greensboro City Council E-Mail Center
Jul 10, 2008
Ever since the issue of Protest Petitions for Greensboro has been going on there has been talk about how bringing back Protest Petitions will somehow hurt the growth of Greensboro in the development community.
On May 15, 2008 guest column on Protest Petitions for Greensboro here is what was said, "Those who oppose protest petitions in Greensboro say they would discourage in-fill development. They say the current exemption aids growth, and not having the exemption would hurt growth.Yet Raleigh and Charlotte have protest petitions, and both have grown faster than Greensboro since the exemption has been in effect."
Well it seems like the argument from the opposition to not bring back Protest Petitions ie "TREBIC", can be thrown right out the window because the U.S. Census Bureau has some new numbers to report , click here
TOP 10 IN GROWTH
Cities with the largest numerical increase from July 2006 to July 2007
#1 Houston- 38,932
#2 Phoenix- 34,941
#3 San Antonio- 32,680
#4 Fort Worth- 29,453
#5 New Orleans- 28,926
#6 New York- 23,960
#7 Atlanta- 20,623
#8 Austin- 17,648
#9 Charlotte- 17,471
#10 Raleigh- 15,148
The #9 and #10 in fastest growing cities happen to be in our great state of North Carolina and guess what they both have in common their citizens both have the right to use Protest Petitions in zoning cases .
This is your time to let the Greensboro City Council know that you want Protest Petitions back in the zoning process. All you need to do is say "Bring Back Protest Petitions to Greensboro", here is the link to the e-mail center for the Greensboro City Council.
Greensboro City Council E-Mail Center
Jun 29, 2008
Greensboro City Council Video
I am Colin Kelly and I reside at 6716 Forsythia Drive Greensboro.
Madam Mayor, Council Members
I am a member of the Coalition of Concerned Citizens and we feel
that the Protest Petition needs to be re-instated.
Coalition for Concerned Citizens has 5 large neighborhoods participating and we are growing. There are many areas of Greensboro that are fed up with the “in-fill” attitude of our city leaders. Growth is good and I support it but the guidelines currently set are not enough to protect our long standing neighborhoods. Please look closely at the current situation in Greensboro and consider bringing back the protest petition to our city.
Greensboro City Council and the zoning commission are a run away development freight train that is out of control. The protest petition will probably not stop this freight train but it might slow it down. If the proposal is worthy then the majority of the council will prevail and the protest petition will not affect that. Why is TREBIC so afraid of the petition?
Greensboro managed to exempt itself from Protest Petition 37 years ago. I have heard
comments to the effect that Greensboro had the foresight to exempt itself from this
state statue in 1971. I am absolutely sure that “foresight” is the correct term I would
use to describe this “injustice”. I have also heard comments to the effect that it is
antiquated and it will hinder future growth in Greensboro. All other cities in our
state have the Protest Petition and their growth has not been hindered. Raleigh,
in fact, has grown quite well so has Charlotte, Asheville, Wilmington…
and I could go on.
The Protest Petition will not hinder growth in our city. It will give the citizens
an opportunity to express to the developers satisfaction as well as their
dissatisfaction to areas of development. It will not stop development.
As an example I would like to talk about the area on Highway 68
near Wendover. The citizens of High Point used the Protest Petition
to state their dissatisfaction with the proposed development. They were able
to negotiate reduced saturation and lighting abutting a single family neighborhood.
Earlier this year in this very chamber the citizens of Western Greensboro
lost an attempt to stop development of an apartment complex going next
to a 50 year old single family neighborhood. The Protest Petition would have
given those citizens the opportunity to say to the builder that this does not fit.
Reduce the density and make it compatible with the existing neighborhood
and we will accept it. We were not given that option because Greensboro is
exempt from theProtest Petition.
The taxpaying citizens of Greensboro have given this message to this council.
It is time for this council to start listening to the people that elected them.
It is also time for this council to send a message to Raleigh and the
Guilford delegation that it is time for Greensboro to re-instate the Protest Petition
because this is what its citizen’s wants.
Jun 20, 2008
During the speakers from the floor section of the Greensboro City Council meeting, Keith Brown and Colin Kelly spoke for 3 minutes a piece. It is hard to get what you want to say in 3 minutes but below is the transcript of Keith Brown's speech, we will post Colin Kelly's speech in a future post.. Also if you would like to see the video of the Greensboro City Council meeting then jump to #4. Click below
greensboro city council video
If you see the video of the meeting it was interesting to see the faces of the City Council during the times when quotes from certain city council members were made during the speech. In one instance Mr. Barber is quoted as saying he wants Greensboro to be consistent with the State of North Carolina on General Statutes. Then in the speech as Mr. Barber looked at me , I said to the effect we need to be consistent on Protest Petitions too. In the video it cut to Mr. Barber and he was shaking his head. It looked like he was saying to the people no, but in clarification from Mr. Barber he was shaking his head as though did I say that.Just look at the video and make up your own minds.
In another part of the video you can see Mr. Matheny not even look up at all when he was quoted. The reaction from the Greensboro City Council to Protest Petitions remains to be seen. The silence still shows.
One of the best parts of the night came from leaving the podium and seeing the reaction from the King of all Zoning cases in Greensboro Lawyer Henry Isaacson. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that back in 1971 Lawyer Henry Isaacson had a part in secretly jamming this bill for the exemption of Greensboro on Protest Petitions. Mr. Isaacson had this mean look on his face along with him shaking his head back and forth.The reaction of Mr. Isaacson to us speaking about Protest Petitions in Greensboro shows us that this right given to all citizens of North Carolina and a secretly jammed bill through the the legislature should have never taken place.Also, in the past 37 years which local lawyer benefitted the most from this exemption , survey says Henry Isaacson.
It would be great to really find out just how this exemption took place and how it got secretly placed on the legislative agenda without letting the citizens of Greensboro have any say whatsoever.
Keith Brown Transcript from Greensboro City Council Meeting on June 17, 2008.
Greensboro City Council June 17, 2008 on protest petitions
* Keith Brown 3728 Pembroke Terrace High Point N.C.
* Madam Mayor, City Council Members, City Manager
* As a member of the Coalition of Concerned Citizens we want to take this opportunity to talk to you about a total injustice to the citizens of Greensboro
*There are laws empowering or directing local governments to act under state control. These are called North Carolina general statutes
*Back in 1971, the powers to be at the local level of Greensboro exempted themselves from North Carolina General Statute 160a-385 and 386. This statute is called “protest Petition”.
*This exemption should have never taken place
*As you can see in your handout highlighted
Professor Owens from unc school of government states and i QUOTE, “The provision in North Carolina Zoning law for a PRotest Petition g.s. 160a385 and 386 is mandatory for cities”.
Mr. Matheny on may 7 2008 you said that research from David Owens and David Lawrence are experts in their field.
If these professors are considered experts in their field than I hope you and the rest of the city council will take what professor owens said in that protest petitions are mandatory for all cities in north carolina
in the past 4 months there has been much written as to how and why greensboro was exempted from this law.
another handout you have in front of you was written by Jordan green from yes weekly he wrote an excellent article on february 12 2008 called a rezoning chronicle: how greensboro lost the protest petition, i urge you to please read it.
This article and numerous questionable zoning cases in greensboro has brought the idea of bringing back protest petitions to greensboro.
Our neighborhood in high point had the opportunity to use the protest petition twice on the same property being rezoned off of highway 68 against a major triad developer.
* I am certain the citizen of greensboro
would also like to have this
tool as their voice against
It is not fair that every other city in this state abides by protest petitions but greensboro is exempted from this north carolina general statute, this makes no sense.
also on may 7 2008 mr barber said the following, greensboro needs to come in line and be consistent with virtually every jurisdiction in the state of north carolina.
I hope mr barber you feel the same about being consistent with protest petitions for greensboro
To hear gary rogers from the triad real estate building industry coalition “trebic” say that greensboro back in 1971 had the foresight to exempt themseves from this statute is condescending to the citizens of greensboro.
no, mr. rogers it was not foresight, it was an effort to take away a right of the citizens of greensboro to use the petition power against unwanted rezoning development in established neighborhoods.
State senator phil berger wants to know where the greensboro city council stands on protest petitions and i am sure plenty of greensboro citizens want to know too.
I urge the greensboro city council to support a bill to make greensboro comply with protest petitions like every other city in this state does.
If you want to see all the information on this issue please go to yahoo.com and type in protest petition greensboro
Thank you very much
Jun 16, 2008
During "speakers from the floor" part of the City Council meeting, certain individuals will make a presentation to the City Council on Protest Petitions for Greensboro.
Those who support bringing Protest Petitions back to the citizens of Greensboro are urged to attend this meeting.
It is very important to show the Greensboro City Council that you would like their support on having the State Legislature pass a bill to make Greensboro comply with North Carolina General Statute 160A-385 and 386.
If you have any questions please contact Keith Brown at 336-812-3630.
Jun 6, 2008
Enclosed is the whole article :
Community group wants petition powers restored
by Benjamin Fair
Unable to arm themselves with the power of petition, a group of Greensboro residents have taken aim and are ready to shoot down what they feel are efforts by local developers to keep their voices from being heard in local zoning cases. In 1971, legislation was passed that exempted the City of Greensboro from a statute that originally gave citizens the right to submit a protest petition in zoning cases, an act many community members today feel was unconstitutional and, according to one group of Greensboro residents, just the beginning of what they feel is an effort by the Greensboro City Council to keep their voices silent on the issue.
“The silence from the Greensboro city council is deafening,” said Keith Brown, a member of the Coalition of Concerned Citizens in Greensboro.According to Brown, Greensboro is the only city in the state to have banned protest petitions. As he explained, residents who support lifting the ban simply want the city of Greensboro to follow the rest of the state in allowing protest petitions to be presented. “Developers are getting away with carte blanche in this county,” he said.
By lifting the ban, disputed zoning cases could only be passed if they receive a 7-2 majority vote by members of the council. Currently, a vote is passed by a simple majority.
As Brown explained, lifting the ban on protest petitions would give residents of the community greater power in standing up to corporate developers. “This should never have been taken away,” he said. “This needs to be changed.”
Ronald Wilson, President of Starmount Residential, Inc. and Sr. Vice President for Starmount Company in Greensboro explained to the Peacemaker that the issue presents both advantages and disadvantages for both sides. According to Wilson, the issue is a complicated balancing act between the developer and the self interest of the community. “From a developers standpoint, it puts a burden on the developer to come up with some kind of agreement to make a project go forward,” he said.
On the other hand, he also explained how lifting the ban could strengthen the relationship between local developers and the community. “It would require the developer the get involved with the surrounding community and get involved with their concerns,” he said.
Wilson explained that in his opinion, the best time to lift the exemption would be in cases where the city is being presented with more opportunity for in-fill development. “I think it is very problematic that we don’t have the right to the protest petition on in-fill cases,” he said. In-fill development is defined as building on an empty lot within the city limits.
Marlene Sanford, president of the Triad Real Estate and Building Industry Coalition, recently told the Peacemaker why she is against the idea of a citizens protest petition. As she explained, protest petitions are a bad idea because they infringe on the private property rights of developers and because they are outdated. “From our perspective, it’s really antiquated and should be repealed statewide,” she said. Greensboro City Council member Robbie Perkins, who is also a real estate developer, shared his opinion on the issue with the Peacemaker. “It’s not really the city’s issue, it’s a state issue,” he said. “I don’t see it as a silver bullet for neighborhood residents to stop contentious zoning cases.”
As the issue continues to draw support and criticism from both sides, Keith Brown has vowed to continue fighting to make his voice heard. “We’re trying to make something that is wrong a right,” he said.
May 26, 2008
Before the agenda could get started Trudy Wade made a motion to add this to the agenda,"That the City Charter be amended to provide that the Greensboro City Attorney be appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the city council to be it's legal advisor", it was seconded by City Council member Mike Barber.
As you can see that the silence from the City of Greensboro to even bring up Protest Petitions is evident with this motion. Bringing back Protest Petitions to the citizens of Greensboro has been in the spotlight since February plenty of time for the City Council to actually bring this up as a motion or a resolution or an agenda item whatever it takes.
Allen Johnson from the Greensboro News and Record had this to say in his Op-Ed piece on May 25, 2008.
When the local legislators convened to take up the matter on May 15, it still hadn’t heard from the council. As it turns out, the council didn’t say yes or no to the idea. In fact, it didn’t say anything. It just sucked the life out of the bill — at least for now — by sealing its collective lips. “We should have had an open dialogue on the dais about this,” Councilwoman Sandra Anderson Groat said last week.
Please let us know when that open dialogue will occur?
Below is a piece on Ed cone's blog click here
Yvonne Johnson responds to my email query on protest petitions: "I'm still studying this and weighing the pros and cons." She says she's conferring with a lot of people, including "communities" and TREBIC, about Pricey Harrison's bill.
Mar 14, 2008 at 03:36 PM
Is the Mayor still weighing the pros and cons?The silence is deafening
At around the 1:18 mark on video City Council member Mike Barber had this to say, "Well over 100 jurisdictions in North Carolina have their attorney report to the elected body that is the absolute rule 99% only 2 in North Carolina Greensboro and High Point don't.There is a story behind Greensboro changing."
The next quote by City Council member Mike Barber is priceless to the argument for bringing back Protest Petitions to Greensboro. Here is what was said, "Coming in line and being consistent with virtually every jurisdiction in the state of North Carolina".That is what we have been saying since the beginning Mr. Barber. This exemption for Greensboro should have never taken place 37 years ago and now it is time to be consistent with the rest of the state as Mr. Barber has stated.
Now it is time to show you what City Council member Zack Matheny had to say about this, "I have studied this significantly and called David Owens and David Lawrence from the UNC School of Government, their experience through their research to quote them made it worthwhile.Research from David Owens and David Lawrence which I know we depend a lot on in numerous cases. They are considered experts in their field."
Since we now know that David Owens is a expert in his field of work let's see what Mr. Owens has to say about Protest Petitions in the State of North Carolina.
Key Legal Issues
David W. Owens, Professor, Institute of Government, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, CB# 3330, Knapp Building, UNC-CH, Chapel Hill, N.C. 27599-3330March 2006
The provision in North Carolina zoning law for a protest petition, G.S. 160A-385(a), is mandatory for cities. The protest petition is available in all cities, whether or not an individual zoning ordinance includes provisions for it. A city may not reduce the required supermajority vote required by local ordinance. Eldridge v. Mangum, 216 N.C. 532, 5 S.E.2d 721 (1939).
As you can see it is mandatory for cities and this exemption for Greensboro should have never taken place. There are many questions to be answered as to why this exemption happened in the first place.I hope that the Greensboro City Council can also see that David Owens is a expert in his field and states that Protest Petitions are mandatory for all cities in North Carolina.
City Council member Sandra Anderson Groat has talked with David Lawrence in the past at length. Maybe she can also talk with David Owens about Protest Petitions.
City Council member Trudy Wade says this,"We are responsible to the citizens". Let's see if you are going to abide by that and be with the citizens or will you take the side of the special interest which in this case is TREBIC.
City Council member Mike Barber at the end of the discussion on the Legislative agenda for short session 2008 had this to say," Let's stick to the facts we can look up, our North Carolina Legislature believes in the ability of local governments to manage our 100 counties up to 8 people. North Carolina General Statutes allow for that, the Legislature believes this is the right way to do it all other municipalities besides High Point around the state are doing this. We are not taking on more responsibility , we are accepting the responsibility we should have never given up."
As you can see from City Council member Mike Barber , there are North Carolina General Statutes that the states have and every other municipality abides by them like in regards to Protest Petitions. He also states that we should never have given away that right. The argument for bringing back Protest Petitions to Greensboro is that this North Carolina General Statute should also have never been given away either.
Since we know now that these 2 issues being city attorney office under the city council and Protest Petitions for the citizens of Greensboro are too controversial in the short session.We also know that the Greensboro City Council passed the city attorney issue with a 5-4 decision at the May 7th meeting.
It is time to see where the City of Greensboro stands on the issue of bringing back Protest Petitions to Greensboro.
May 25, 2008
Below is the article and in a future post there will be a case made by the Greensboro City Council at their May 7th meeting in regards to Protest Petitions while talking about another legislative agenda item. Stay Tune for that.
Allen Johnson: How opponents nuked protest petitions while council said ... nothing
Sunday, May. 25, 2008 3:00 am
They nuked it with silence.
A proposed bill that would have restored to Greensboro citizens what others already have in the state's other major cities went before it came on May 15.
The bill in question would have restored the right to use protest petitions in Greensboro.
A protest petition would require a two-thirds super majority (at least a 7-2 vote in favor) for the City Council to approve a disputed rezoning. To force such a vote, opponents would have to produce signatures from owners of at least 5 percent of the adjoining land.
Greensboro asked for and received an exemption to that state law that allows protest petitions in 1971. Despite the sheer reasonableness of the law, we as a citizenry have been without that right ever since, even as Charlotte, Raleigh, Winston-Salem and High Point seem to have gotten along just fine with protest petitions all those years.
They're without it still.
The new bill already had a willing sponsor in state Rep. Pricey Harrison. If the county's legislative delegation simply had asked, it likely would have been a shoo-in to pass in Raleigh. All it lacked was an official request from the City Council -- which never came.
When the local legislators convened to take up the matter on May 15, it still hadn't heard from the council. As it turns out, the council didn't say yes or no to the idea. In fact, it didn't say anything. It just sucked the life out of the bill -- at least for now -- by sealing its collective lips.
"We should have had an open dialogue on the dais about this," Councilwoman Sandra Anderson Groat said last week.
Groat questioned why the council heard a briefing on the protest petition bill but never actually discussed it. When asked why legislation that works elsewhere won't work here, Groat, who is a builder by trade, shrugged. "I don't know. I absolutely don't know."
Councilwoman Mary Rakestraw, a retired real estate agent, said she was surprised as well that there wasn't a public discussion of the issue. She also said she supports the idea of protest petitions but even if she didn't, she believes the council is obligated to discuss it and that it should revisit the subject. "If it doesn't," she said, "I'll certainly bring it up."
To hear some in the development community tell it, however, protest petitions are downright un-American. Marlene Sanford, president of the Triad Real Estate and Building Industry Coalition, not only opposes protest petitions in Greensboro, she opposes them everywhere. "Frankly," she wrote in a letter to Guilford legislators, "the protest petition is antiquated and should be repealed statewide."
Sanford argued as well that Greensboro -- and "only Greensboro" -- already allows a "Citizens Initiative Petition where citizens can take any ordinance (including rezonings) to a citywide referendum."
That's not exactly true. The city charter does empower citizens to overturn a City Council vote by petition and referendum. (In 2003, a local group used the maneuver in a failed attempt to block the downtown baseball stadium.)
But Greensboro is hardly unique in this respect. Nine other municipalities in the state include similar provisions in their charters.
Even if the council may oppose the idea of protest petitions, it would have been useful to hear why, in the light of day. After all, there are some valid concerns. For instance, is the 5 percent threshold too low? And is Greensboro by nature so contentious that it might abuse the option? (We have tended over the years to file more petitions than other cities in the state.)
So why not debate these concerns in the open?
"My read on it is that we had a lot of things going on and this was bigger to the bloggers than the rest of the community," Councilman Robbie Perkins, a developer, said, referring to the council's overflowing plate of hot issues.
But the council's silence only feeds the perception that it is predisposed to side with developers. And, even Perkins, after raising various questions about protest petitions, conceded that the issue deserved more than a conspicuous non-answer. "This is not over," he said. "This thing is going to be discussed again." As well it should be.
Love it or hate it, the bill never got a fair hearing. More discouraging than the squelching of the idea was the squelching of the discussion.
Mayor Yvonne Johnson agreed that the council would revisit the protest petition movement. That would only be fair.
After all, you don't build dialogue with silence. And you don't build trust without dialogue. We can only hope the council will follow through on its pledges.
If not, I'd protest. And you should, too.
How many more articles, letters to the editor, guest columns, and post in this blog will it take to get the Greensboro City Council to actually deny or pass a resolution or motion on this issue. The silence is deafening.
Here is the option for the Greensboro City Council:
Go on record as supporting a bill to make Greensboro comply with North Carolina General Statute 160a-385 and 386, which never should have been taken away from the citizens of Greensboro in the first place.That means 6 months till the 2009 long session begins.
Go on record as denying the rights of the citizens of Greensboro this North Carolina General Statute and to be on the side of TREBIC which will then show the citizens of Greensboro where your allegience really stands.
Take your pick.
May 22, 2008
In the Triad Business Journal January18-24 2008 in the Triad Talk section this is what was said. " Developers always have the upper hand in Guilford County" says Reid Phillips, an attorney with Brooks Pierce in Greensboro. They have boards packed with their people. They have experience. They are masters of divide and conquer. They can also wear people out with continuances.
It is hard for grass roots efforts to compete with this modus operandi.
The issue of Protest Petitions for Greensboro has struck a real fire into a lot of people who are amazed that they don't have this North Carolina General Statute to use . In a future posting , there is going to be a case made from how the Greensboro City Council during their talk about the legislative agenda for 2008 on May 7th made a compelling case for Protest Petitions while talking about another issue.
In the letter below from the Triad Real Estate and Building Industry Coalition "TREBIC", you will see comments made in red after some of the paragraphs. This will show you the other side of this issue on Protest Petitions for Greensboro.
From: Marlene Sanford
Sent: Tuesday, May 13, 2008 2:30
Subject: URGENT - Greensboro Protest Petition decision at the May 15 Guilford Delegation meeting
May 13, 2008
Senators Stan Bingham, Phil Berger, Katie Dorsett and Kay Hagan, and Representatives Alma Adams, John Blust, Katie Dorsett, Maggie Jeffus, Earl Jones, Pricey Harrison and Laura Wiley
RE: Greensboro Rezoning Protest Petition
Dear Senators and Representatives:
We are very concerned at the discussion of instituting rezoning Protest Petitions in the Greensboro . We urge you NOT to pursue this.
All through the original letter they use bold type settings trying to make a point but show their arrogance in the letter, for example with the word NOT
Greensboro was exempted from this in 1971, we think in part because only Greensboro has a Citizen Initiative Petition where citizens can take any ordinance (including rezonings) to a citywide referendum.
As you can see they use the 2 words "we think" , in reality they don't have a clue what happened. The editorial from Yes Weekly had this to say, " It was nullified in Greensboro amid a storm of property development in 1970", that sounds like more of what happened, then "we think".Please read the article in Yes Weekly from the front page of this blog posted on February 17, 2008.
Protest petitions were “born” in the early 1900s because getting information to the public was difficult. Now, nearly 100 years later we’re in a new century and the “information age” and the communication problem no longer exists. There are strict rules for public notice and most developers voluntarily meet with neighbors. "Infill" development and redevelopment was not an issue then, but it is now, and allowing protest petitions will make it even harder to achieve smart growth developments where neighborhoods generally oppose higher densities and mixed uses that fit into the "better land use management plan" that Greensboro adopted in 2003. Frankly, the protest petition is antiquated and should be repealed statewide.
Where can we start with this one 2 points first on how your hear them say "most developers voluntarily meet with neighbors". The key word is "most" it is amazing that there is not a requirement for the developers to meet with neighbors in Greensboro.David Wharton who is a member of the Greensboro Land Development Ordinance Committee had this to say"This might interest you: I and others tried hard to get a "meet and confer" requirement written into the new ordinance, which would require a developer seeking a rezoning to meet with the neighbors beforehand and to report to the zoning commission the outcome of the meeting.
The best we could get was a requirement that developers must report to the zoning commission on their efforts to confer with neighbors, which means that if they didn't try to meet, they have to say that."
As you can see David Wharton says the best we could get, because people like Gary Rogers with Starmount Company,Trip Brown with Brown Investment,Keith Price with Samet Companies,James Cox with Mid-City Urban,Jessica Marlies with Brooks Pierce Law Firm,Mike Fox with Tuggles Duggins Law Firm,Dick Franks with Koury Corp.,Gary Hill with McAlphine Company,Gary Wolf with SparrowWolf Law Firm, and Mary Skenes with Yost and Little. So 10 out of 14 are TREBIC members or close allies with TREBIC for the Land Development Ordinance Citizen Advisory Team. As said before by Lawyer Reid Phillips ,boards get packed with TREBIC all the time especially in Greensboro where as Mike Barber said at a Greensboro City Council meeting on April 1st "TREBIC has been contacted and TREBIC has some interest".
The other point has to do with TREBIC saying that " Protest Petition is antiquated and should be repealed statewide". It should be noted that Protest Petitions are not antiquated but the exemption of Greensboro from this North Carolina General Statute is antiquated. Let's have the State Legislators pass a bill to make Greensboro comply with this statute and then TREBIC can lobby to deny the citizens of the whole state of North Carolina their right to protest unwanted development in their neighborhood.Good luck with that endeavor.
It is also noted that they left out the condescending quote from Gary Rogers TREBIC chairman saying that Greensboro had the foresight to exempt themselves from Protest Petitions.No, Mr. Rogers, it was not foresight. It was an effort to take away a right of the citizens to use the power of petitions against unwanted development in established neighborhoods
NC’s protest petition process allows a mere 5% of property owners within 100’ of the subject property to petition for a 75% vote of the full council (not “those present”) to pass the rezoning. In Greensboro that’s 7, and it essentially gives just 3 Council members veto power over rezoning decisions. It is patently absurd that a mere 5% of neighbors can so severely curtail someone else’s property rights. A democracy is run by majority vote. You can change the constitution of the United States with a simple majority, or with only a 2/3 vote of those elected representatives (Congress) present.
You can't change the constitution with a simple majority,
Greensboro rezonings already require a 2/3 vote to pass (6 of 9 votes), or else a second reading at the next meeting, giving opponents 2 to 3 extra weeks to lobby the issue further.
In other words it still only takes a 5-4 decision.
The 100 counties in NC do not allow protest petitions. While some other states do allow protest petitions, it is not pervasive and we found no states that allow a mere 5% to lodge a protest.
This is factually wrong, you might want to do some more research.
Local news reports have quoted City Council members urging caution, and some neighborhood advocates who fear it will impede the implementation of neighborhood preservation efforts. Citywide neighborhood groups are not taking up this cause. Greensboro goes to great effort to balance business friendliness with neighborhood stability, and does a pretty good job of it. This is a local government issue, and the legislative delegation should not pursue it.
TREBIC, please go ask the Greensboro Neighborhood Congress where they stand on this issue. The reason why it has become a state issue is because the Greensboro City Council has done nothing, the silence is deafening. The exemption should have never been taken away from Greensboro citizens in the first place.
Ed cone wrote a column called "Power to the people may be restored". In it is a paragraph in regards to Greensboro City Council member Robbie Perkins and it states:Certainly it is hard to look at our landscape, our City Council, or our recent history and argue that neighborhoods couldn't use a little help when it comes to development issues. City Councilman (and developer) Robbie Perkins says his industry must work on its bully-boy image. "Greensboro developers need to reverse the perception that they get everything they want," he says. "Otherwise, the pendulum will swing and development in the city will be severely curtailed."
Thank you TREBIC for a letter that shows your true colors and self interest