N.C. Rep. Darren Jackson supports a bill in the General Assembly that would eliminate the ability of neighboring property owners to file protest petitions when a town board is considering a rezoning request. That bill has been passed in the House of Representatives and awaits action in the Senate before it could become law.
Jackson says the legislation will have little effect here in eastern Wake County, but that’s based largely on historical trends and not what the future might hold.
As development becomes more dense in eastern Wake County, the use of the dwindling amount available land will become more contentious. If you have any doubts about that, follow the hysteria in the western United States where water is a rare commodity and more people need it than the supply will serve.
Whether that land in eastern Wake County should be used for homes similar the ones that surround it, or whether it should be used for commercial will depend squarely on who you ask. Opinions will be as plentiful as this year’s snow in New England.
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But one thing’s for certain. Those who don’t like a proposal under consideration will look for every alternative to prevent it from becoming a reality. If Jackson’s bill passes, they will lose one of the options that has served the town well.
Because a valid protest petition requires a change in the behavior of a board of commissioners or a town council, they carry some weight. Elected leaders can, of course, still rule against the protest petition if they believe the rezoning request is a reasonable one.
Jackson’s bill serves to make government less responsive to property owners and gives government broader opportunity to dismiss complaints without giving those concerns the consideration it merits.
Based on past history, it may not seem like a big deal for eastern Wake County property owners, but legislation shouldn’t be based solely on the past. Good legislation anticipates future needs and works to address those situations. In this case, that will mean property owners have less input in how their towns develop. We’re not sure that’s a wise move.