Mar 29, 2008

League of Women Voters Protest Petition Open Letter to Send to State Legislators

Restoring Petition Power to Greensboro

March 18, 2008

Take action today to persuade the North Carolina Legislature to reverse Greensboro’s exemption
from the protest petition law!

Representative Pricey Harrison is introducing legislation for the reinstatement of the protest
petition and will try to get this acted upon during the short session that begins in May.

The Legislature will reverse this exemption, IF all members of the Guilford County delegation
request it. Therefore, it is important for those delegates to hear from YOU.

Not all are in favor of reinstatement. A Greensboro attorney “warned that the law allows too much
power, sometimes to a single individual who owns enough adjoining property to invoke a petition
by himself” (from N-R opinion 3/2/2008). One city council member worries about discouraging
new development. Some real estate people and developers think it would be unfair for a few people
to stop a development or “decrease my property rights ...when I want to change what I want to do
with my own property” (N-R, “Officials rethink development process,” 3/11/2008, B1). Clearly,
government officials and developers felt they couldn’t trust citizens in 1971, when the exemption
from the protest petition law was first passed.

But citizen participation in government is vital. Moreover, citizens were very active in the
development of our long-range plan, which should be more than a “guide” to development.
Amendments should be few, and the council should more often be following the
recommendations of the Zoning Commission and the Planning Board.

Check your voter registration card to identify your NC Senate district and NC House district.
Then call or e-mail your representatives to let them know you strongly support reinstatement of
the petition power. If you personally participated in the long-range planning a few years ago, tell
them that, too. If you have had personal experience with a zoning/planning decision that the city
council made, tell them about that as well.

It would be helpful for you to send copies of your message to all the delegates, for all are needed to
get this exemption reversed. In particular, the positions of Stan Bingham and Phil Berger are not
known, and they do not live in Greensboro or in a larger city that has this petition power. So it is
important that they hear from us.

Names and addresses are included with this message.

B. J. Weatherby

Mar 26, 2008

Thomas Jefferson for Protest Petitions

Even Thomas Jefferson is for Protest Petitions, check out this youtube video.

click here

Mar 22, 2008


This post is a strange one in that there was a letter to the editor posted in the Greensboro News and Record on March 22, 2008. I was trying to link this article but could not find it on their web site for me to link. So I will go ahead and put the letter to the editor here for everyone to see.

This letter to the editor is from Jim Rumley who is running against Maggie Jeffus for House seat 59. Note , parts of this editorial is not for me to endorse I just want everyone to know that there was another letter to the editor in the Greensboro News and Record.

NOTE: We’ve made a policy decision not to blog letters that promote or oppose the election of specific candidates. This is from editorial board of Greensboro News and Record.

Jim Rumley
Brown Summit
Note: Rumley is running against Jeffus

Title: Maggie Jeffus dawdling(to move lackadaisically) on

It was 37 years ago that the Democrats from Greensboro took away the citizens right to protest the unfair actions of the City Council on zoning. Now it may be revisited by the current legislature.

It's never surprising that Maggie Jeffus has nothing to say about this or other potential legislation to return to Greensboro the right of Protest Petitions. She is the do nothing legislator till it's already in the works. Then she will join the crowd.

Already half the legislative delegation is poised to introduce the legislation to return the right of citizens in Greensboro to protest actions that they feel are not in their best interest. So my quess is that in a day or two, she will finally speak up and say she was for it, too.

Don't the citizens of Greensboro deserve someone who is proactive to their needs and not reactive? Greensboro needs someone who knows the business and family needs in Greensboro. We need to have real change in the N.C. House of Representatives. We need to let the current legislators stay home come election time.

Mar 17, 2008

Protest Petition not a part of Greensboro agenda in Yes Weekly Blog

Yes Weekly link to the blog on Protest Petitions, click here

It is great to see that ethics might be coming to the local level of city govermnent.It is also interesting to see that they want state funding for this Heart of the Triad. This might call for all citizens who live in Guilford County to ask your representatives to have Protest Petitions in the county too. To keep people informed Protest Petitions are only in the city aspect of the North Carolina General Statute but if a county wanted to adopt Protest Petition as a part of the planning process they could.

Below is a few paragraphs from the Yes Weekly Blog:

The Greensboro City Council votes Tuesday on its legislative agenda. Notably missing from the list is any request for the restoration of the protest petition. That may be because the groundswell of support for reform caught the council off guard. And by all accounts, the Guilford delegation is already committed to overturning Greensboro's exemption, so the council's opinion probably doesn't count. For more information on the protest petition, read this.

Not that city government is indifferent to matters of land development and political influence. The memo created by Acting City Attorney Becky Jo Peterson-Buie for council members pledges that staff "will closely monitor" any amendments to ethics and lobbying laws. "It is expected that the proposed amendments will apply the concepts of the new [state] ethics and lobbying law to local government officials.

"Rep. Pricey Harrison, the same Democratic legislator who has promised to introduce legislation to restore the protest petition, has indicated she will sponsor a bill to extend to local officials the same ethics rules passed for state legislators in 2006.

“I have seen members of these governing boards vote on issues that they would have had to recuse themselves from if bound by the same laws,” she told me last month. “[The Heart of the Triad proposal] seems to be a prime example, conceived of by and for development interests with very little citizen input

.”Speaking of the swath of rural land between the Triad's three major cities, the legislative agenda contains an item backing funding support to "enable the success of the Heart of the Triad... to create a mixed-used development area that maximizes job creation and preserves the natural area."

Mar 16, 2008

Power to the People May Be Restored, ED CONE on Protest Petitions

On March 16, 2008 Ed Cone columnists for the Greensboro News and Record wrote an article on Protest Petitions. It came about from a very long blog about the subject of Protest Petitions.

click here to see the article: ED CONE

click here to see the blog: ED CONE BLOG

Mar 15, 2008

Greensboro's Development Game

Greensboro's Development Game
How Greensboro's development lobby shapes city council decision

By Jordan Green from Yes Weekly from 5/29/07


TREBIC gets slammed by John Locke Foundation Piedmont Blog

The John Locke Foundation had a great question on Greensboro development but the best line of the day is below. You can also click here to be taken to the John Locke Foundation web site: JOHN LOCKE

Questions of developmentPosted March 12th, 2008 at 7:10 AM by SamH

"Only Al Qaeda and the Triad Real Estate and Building Industry Coalition oppose restoring the protest petition in Greensboro. OK, last time I’ll use that line. "

But TREBIC’s Marlene Sanford was only being honest when she said protest petitions would affect infill development in Greensboro, because it’s hard to imagine such a project that wouldn’t affect a neighborhood in Greensboro. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong; it’s just the way it is.

If infill development is met with opposition by neighborhoods and fringe development is met with opposition by the anti-sprawl movement, where is development supposed to occur? It’s an interesting question.

Protest Petition Questions for Local and State Representatives

Is it fair that Greensboro is the only city exempted from this North Carolina General Statute?

Do you think the citizens of Greensboro have the right to a Protest Petition in the zoning process?

Would you support a bill to make Greensboro comply with this North Carolina General Statute 160 A 385 & 386?

These are just a few of the questions that need to be addressed. It would be great to see the responses to this question.

Mar 14, 2008

TREBIC gets slammed by Greensboro Citizen

Add another person to the list of citizens who have written to the Greensboro News and Record about Protest Petitions. On March 14, 2008 Sharon Kalbaugh wrote about TREBIC and one of the most absurd quotes ever said in response to bringing back Protest Petitions to Greensboro, clickhere

State should ignore group's petition advice,

As noted in your story, "Officials rethink development process" (March 11), clickhere Marlene Sanford suggests that the state should look at repealing protest petitions altogether. Why stop here?Perhaps Sanford and the Triad Real Estate and Building Coalition should lobby to repeal the entire First Amendment.It may be time to look to move to one of the "free" cities in North Carolina where no such petition restrictions exist. My house will be on the market listed "FOR SALE BY OWNER," no Realtors, please.

Sharon KalbaughGreensboro

Mar 13, 2008

1971 Law Session Exempting Greensboro from Protest Petition

These are North Carolina General Statutes
By following proper procedures and observing Constitutional limitations, the General Assembly can create new law and can destroy old law. The kinds of laws which are enacted may be classified under five general heads:

(3) Laws empowering or directing local governments to act. Cities, counties, and many other types of local governmental units are subject to State control. This control is generally exercised through the General Assembly by laws enabling or directing the local units to act in the manner desired by the State.


Section 1. Section 4.35(c) of the Charter of the City of Greensboro, as set
forth in Section 1, Chapter 1137 of the Session Laws of 1959, is amended, by repealing
the first two sentences contained therein and by substituting in lieu thereof two new
sentences as follows:
"Upon approval of the City Council, the City Manager may provide additional
compensation to auxiliary police and firemen for injuries received in the line of duty for
the City of Greensboro. Otherwise, auxiliary policemen and firemen shall not be entitled
to additional compensation for their services, unless called into active duty by either the
Mayor or City Manager and Chief of Police because of an emergency, in which event
they may receive such compensation for their services as shall be approved by the
Sec. 2. Section 4.122 of the Charter of the City of Greensboro, as set forth in
Section 1, Chapter 1137 of the Session Laws of 1959, as amended by Section 3 of
Chapter 42, Session Laws of 1965, is amended by striking out the words "five per cent
(5%) appearing in the second sentence and substituting in lieu thereof "ten per cent
(unless otherwise specified by the Council)"; and by striking out the words "five per
cent (5%)" appearing at the end of said second sentence and substituting in lieu thereof
"ten per cent unless otherwise specified by the Council"; and by striking out the words
"five per cent (5%)" as the same appears near the beginning of the third sentence thereof
and by substituting in lieu thereof the word "accordingly".
Sec. 3. Section 5.62(d) of the Charter of the City of Greensboro as set forth
in Section 1, Chapter 1137, Session Laws of 1959, is amended by repealing the words
and figures "authorized by G.S. 160-178," contained in the first sentence thereof.
Sec. 4. Chapter V, Subchapter D, Article 1 of the Charter of the City of
Greensboro as set forth in Section 1, Chapter 1137, Session Laws of 1959, as amended,
is amended by adding the following new section following Section 5.64 as follows:
"Section 5.65. Creation and Duties of Board of Adjustment.
(a) The City Council may provide for the creation and organization of a Board of
Adjustment to which appeals may be taken from the decision of the building inspector
Page 2 S.L. 1971-29 House Bill 127
concerning provisions of the zoning, subdivision, mobile home, and sign ordinances of
the City of Greensboro and any other provisions of the Greensboro Code of Ordinances
in which appeals to the Board of Adjustment may be provided.
(b) The Board shall consist of seven (7) members to serve for three year
overlapping terms. The City Council may fix the duties, procedure for appeals to the
Board and the vote required to reverse the building inspector. The Board of Adjustment
shall have the power to elect its own officers, to fix the times and places for its
meetings, to adopt necessary rules of procedure, and to adopt all other rules and
regulations not inconsistent with the duties conferred by the City Council and which
may be necessary for the proper discharge of its duties; and it shall keep an accurate
record of all its proceedings.
(c) Every decision of the Board shall be subject to review by the Superior Court
of Guilford County by proceedings in the nature of certiorari instituted within fifteen
(15) days of the decision of the Board, but not otherwise."
Sec. 5. Section 6.106 of the Charter of the City of Greensboro, as set forth in
Section 1, Chapter 1137, Session Laws of 1959 is amended by adding a new sentence at
the end thereof as follows:
"If the appraiser appointed by the City Council and the appraiser appointed by the
owner or owners fail to agree upon the appointment of the third appraiser within thirty
(30) days from the date of the adoption of the initial resolution, the City of Greensboro,
through the City Attorney, may apply to the Clerk of Superior Court of Guilford County
for appointment of a third appraiser; and the Clerk of Superior Court of Guilford County
shall have the power to issue an order appointing the third appraiser from which there
shall be no appeal therefrom except for just cause."
Sec. 6. Section 6.144(a)(1) of the Charter of the City of Greensboro, as set
forth in Section 1, Chapter 1137, Session Laws of 1959, is amended by adding a new
sentence at the end thereof as follows:
"Nothing herein contained shall limit the power of the Council to contract with any
property owner for such improvements."
Sec. 7. Section 6.151 of the Charter of the City of Greensboro, as set forth in
Section 1, Chapter 1137, Session Laws of 1959, is amended by repealing the words "of
six per centum per annum" as they appear therein and by substituting in lieu thereof the
words "fixed by general law for interest on assessments levied for public improvements
and shall run".
Sec. 8. Section 6.152 of the Charter of the City of Greensboro, as set forth in
Section 1, Chapter 1137, Session Laws of 1959, is amended by repealing the words "of
six per centum per annum" as the same appears in the second sentence and by
substituting in lieu thereof the words "fixed by general law for interest on assessments
levied for public improvements and shall run".
Sec. 9. All extensions and purported extensions of the corporate limits of the
City of Greensboro are hereby declared to be approved and validated.
Sec. 10. All proceedings of the City Council of the City of Greensboro and
all work performed relative to local improvements, including street paving, sidewalk
construction, water and sanitary sewer construction, including water and sanitary sewer
House Bill 127 S.L. 1971-29 Page 3
mains, lines and laterals, and all work incidental to such local improvements and the
assessments levied and assessed therefor, are hereby in all respects approved and
Sec. 11. The City of Greensboro is hereby exempted from those provisions
of G.S. 160-176 and G.S. 160-176.1 specifically relating to petitions of protest on
zoning matters (as the same may be recodified under Chapter 160 of the General
Statutes of North Carolina) and said provisions are hereby no longer applicable to the
City of Greensboro; provided, however, the remainder of the provisions of G.S. 160-176
shall remain applicable to the City of Greensboro.
Sec. 12. All laws and clauses of laws in conflict with this act are hereby
Sec. 13. This act shall be in full force and effect from and after its
ratification; provided that with respect to Section 1 of this act, said section shall be
applicable from and after 1 July 1970.
In the General Assembly read three times and ratified, this the 25th day of
February, 1971.

Mar 10, 2008

Guilford Legislators Looking at Protest Petition Law in N & R

Mr. Mark Binker from the Greensboro News and Record who writes about the Capital Beat in Raleigh has written about how the legislators are looking at Protest Petition and to see where the local legislators stand on the issue and to see if it can be turned into law in the short session. To all those people who are for Greensboro having Protest Petition as a part of the zoning process, then this is one step in the right direction. Enclosed is a link to the online article.

Mar 9, 2008


I would like everyone to know that a Anne Hummel wrote a great letter to the editor on March 9, 2008 in the Greensboro News & Record in regards to bringing back PROTEST PETITION to Greensboro please read at this link.

The protest petition adds layer of protection
Let's set a high bar for approving rezonings that could damage our neighborhoods permanently. I believe that recent rezonings in northwest Greensboro have shown that an added layer of protection for affected neighbors is needed.
For 36 years, the people of Greensboro have not had the citizen recourse of a protest petition enjoyed by the citizens of Charlotte, Raleigh, Durham, Winston-Salem, Fayetteville, Wilmington and Asheville.
A protest petition allows citizens to force council members to muster a 75 percent "supermajority" for approving rezonings that are protested by a petition signed by 5 percent of the adjacent neighborhood property owners.
We lost that right when, amid a host of controversial rezonings in northwest Greensboro in 1971, the N.C. General Assembly amended the city charter to exempt Greensboro from this law. It is time to reinstate it.
If the City Council is persuaded that a contested development plan is reasonably fair to all concerned and is best for the city, it will be approved. The safeguard of a 75 percent supermajority would not halt such a development.
But if a controversial plan does not measure up to this high standard, it should be voted down.

Anne Hummel

Mar 6, 2008

the right to protest editorial in News and Record

The lead editorial in the Greensboro News and Record on Sunday March 2, 2008 had to do with the rights of Greensboro citizens to use the Protest Petition that was taken away from them some 37 years ago. Please read this editorial from the Greensboro News and Record. It is very clear to the Editorial Board that the rights of Greensboro citizens were taken away and now need to be restored, enclosed is a link to the article

The right to protest
Sunday, Mar. 2, 2008 3:00 am
When Keith Brown's High Point neighborhood was threatened with an unwanted development next door, he turned to a state law for help."It's a great law," Brown said last week. "It's there to protect the people who own adjoining property."The law allows neighbors to file protest petitions against proposed rezonings. A successful petition requires a three-fourths vote by the City Council, rather than a simple majority, to approve the change. But it doesn't apply in Greensboro, denying residents a tool they ought to have to make sure land-use decisions are fair for everyone.The protest provision goes back to 1923 in North Carolina, when municipal zoning statutes were first enacted, David W. Owens, a professor at UNC-Chapel Hill's Institute of Government, said last week. Zoning was meant to establish a sense of certainty in land-use policy. Legislators also recognized that nearby property owners had a stake and gave them the opportunity to influence decisions in a powerful way.Then, in 1971, following a contentious rezoning case, Greensboro won a legislative exemption from the protest petition law. For decades, little attention was paid to the issue. Until now.Brown, a Greensboro native, has been pushing for reinstatement of the protest petition option for his hometown. He's winning supporters."I feel strongly that we need to restore that power to the citizens of Greensboro," state Rep. Pricey Harrison said last week. She'll try to get that done during the short legislative term that begins in May, although for procedural reasons action might have to wait until the next long session in 2009.But a Greensboro attorney who handles land-use cases throughout much of the state, Thomas E. Terrell Jr., warned that the law allows too much power, sometimes to a single individual who owns enough adjoining property to invoke a petition by himself."One person has the power to deny an elected body the right to decide an issue by majority vote," Terrell said. It's the "biggest stick any citizen can ever have" to control how another person uses his own land.Protest petitions don't always settle conflicts with a big stick, Owens at the Institute of Government said."They have the effect of encouraging the landowners and neighbors getting together and reconciling their competing interests prior to the issue getting to a vote of the City Council," he said.That was the case when people in Brown's neighborhood filed a protest petition: The developer eventually offered acceptable accommodations."I think it's going to make developers sit at the table," he said.Greensboro City Councilman Zack Matheny, however, worries about discouraging new developments. Although protest petitions haven't impeded growth in Charlotte or Raleigh, where they're used commonly, "Greensboro is not Charlotte and Raleigh. Greensboro is a different town," Matheny said.Yet, if developers make a compelling case, they still can win City Council approval with a three-fourths vote. And the council should give more weight to the objections of many residents than to one or only a few.Greensboro property owners are due the same right to petition state law allows residents of other cities