Durham News

Durham City Council approves annexation for shopping center east of Sherron Road

The City Council unanimously approved a request for an annexation and rezoning that will allow the development of a commercial center east of the intersection of Sherron Road at Wake Forest Highway.

Marlow Builders sought the annexation, utility extension agreement and rezoning for two vacant parcels that total 4.75 acres at 5200 and 5204 Wake Forest Highway. The site is next to Ravenstone Commons Shopping Center.

The site was rezoned to a commercial center with a development plan for 27,800 square feet of retail space by the City Council and Durham County Board of Commissioners in 2006 and 2007. In its request for request for annexation Monday night, Marlow Builders sought the same zoning designation that had been previously approved.

James Brinkley, 57, who has lived next to the property all his life, asked the City Council to reject the request because it would bring more traffic and “light pollution” to the area.

“Introducing this into the mix is going to create chaos,” he said.

City-County Planning Director Steve Medlin said development criteria such as buffer requirement and restrictions on the height of lights will have to be met before the site plan is approved.

Before the vote, City Council members pointed out that the zoning had essentially already been set by the a previous approval.

HIV housing

In other business, the City Council approved without comment a $140,000 six-month contract with Duke University School of Medicine’s program Partners In Caring to offer housing assistance to people living with AIDS and HIV.

The Durham/Chapel Hill Metropolitan area was recently designated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to be eligible for federal Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) funding, according to a city report. The area became eligible to receive $282,910 this fiscal year because it surpassed the federal threshold of having 1,500 cases of AIDS and a population of more than 500,000. As the most populated city within the area, Durham will administer the funds, the report states.

The funding was granted while the city is in the middle of planning how to use federal grants, so a decision was made to establish a six-month contract with Duke program. Partners In Caring had already been using federal HOPWA funding passed down through the state and serving clients living within eight counties by providing short-term mortgage, rent and utility payment to prevent homelessness and maintain housing stability. Partners In Caring also provides other supportive and case management services.

In the meantime, the city’s Department of Community Development is working to better understand funding requirements and explore how to administer the rest of the grant, the report states.

In Durham County, there are about 1,600 people living with HIV infections. The county ranks No. 3 in the state for the highest average rate of newly diagnosed HIV cases over a three-year period.

Virginia Bridges: 919-829-8924, @virginiabridges