Developer plans suit over basin boundary

From Staff ReportsJune 18, 2009 

— The developers who want to build a small village on 164 acres near Jordan Lake informed Durham County on Tuesday that they plan to sue over the watershed boundary.

Chuck Kitchen, the county attorney, said he received a summons and court order from lawyers Bill Brian and Patrick Byker that extend the deadline for filing suit.

Byker and Brian represent Southern Development Co. Efforts to reach them were unsuccessful.

At issue is a 2006 decision by Frank Duke, then the city and county planning director, to change the Jordan Lake critical watershed boundary in the proposed development site. Duke's decision cleared the way for Southern Durham Development Co. to build homes, offices and shops on the site, a project that would not have been permitted without the boundary change. Such development is not permitted within a critical watershed.

Duke's decision was based on a survey commissioned by Neal Hunter, a partner in Southern Durham Development.

In 2008, Kitchen reviewed Duke's decision and concluded that changing the boundary required state approval. The county received state approval in February to reset the boundary according to the Hunter survey and initiated a process to do so as required by Durham's development law.

Southern Durham Development contends that Duke's action was proper and that the process now under way is an unnecessary hindrance to its project.

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