Jun 29, 2008

Coalition Member Colin Kelly speaking to Greensboro City Council on June 17, 2008

The Coalition of Concerned Citizens of the Triad went to the Greensboro City Council on June 17, 2008 to make the case for bringing back Protest Petitions to the citizens of Greensboro.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 Colin Kelly's speech. 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

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.

Thank you.

Jun 20, 2008

Coalition Members speaking to Greensboro City Council on June 17, 2008

The Coalition of Concerned Citizens of the Triad went to the Greensboro City Council on June 17, 2008 to make the case for bringing back Protest Petitions to the citizens of Greensboro.

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
encroaching development

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

Stand Up for Protest Petitions at Greensboro City Council Meeting on June 17, 2008

Please come and support the Coalition of Concerned Citizens at the Greensboro City Council Meeting on June 17, 2008 at 5:30 pm.

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

Carolina Peacemaker article "Community Group Wants Petition Power Restored

Benjamin Fair from the Carolina Peacemaker on June 6, 2008 writes a front page article on Protest Petitions for Greensboro North Carolina, click here

Enclosed is the whole article :

Community group wants petition powers restored
by Benjamin Fair
Carolina Peacemaker
posted 6/6/2008

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.