The Haw River Assembly isn't giving up its fight against changing a watershed boundary line for Jordan Lake.
The Assembly and the Southern Environmental Law Center claim that the Durham City-County Planning Department erred in ruling its protest petition invalid. They want the county to acknowledge the change did not win county commissioners' approval by a 3-2 vote Oct. 12.
If valid, the petition would require a 4-1 vote for approval.
SELC attorney Kay Bond (right) said Durham County has not responded to its claim except to say it is seeking more information.
Planning Director Steve Medlin said the only contact his department has had with the SELC is a Tuesday telephone call for information. The department has not evaluated any claim regarding the petition since the invalid ruling prior to the commissioners’ vote, he said.
The commissioners' approval for a rezoning and land-use plan amendment, which effectively relocated a protected area beside the lake, removed one obstacle from Southern Durham Development Inc.'s plan for a subdivision between Jordan Lake and N.C. 751 in southwestern Durham County.
Durham conservationists, the Haw Assembly and the SELC opposed the change, claiming it it reduces protections for the most polluted part of Jordan Lake and allows development within an area originally designated as critical for water quality.
The protest petition was signed by 24 property owners affected by the boundary move. The planning department ruled it invalid because those owners represented less than 20 percent of those affected.
After reviewing property maps, SELC and the Assembly claim planning incorrectly omitted some property, and that the signatories in fact represent 20.9 percent, making the petition valid under Durham regulations.
"We cannot find any reason those properties should have been left out," said Elaine Chiosso, Haw River Assembly director. "We feel quite confiddent that they have made a mistake."
Bond said there have been no decisions made on next steps, if Durham County does not agree that the change was not approved.
"I think we'll wait and see," she said.