Durham News: Opinion

Your letters, Feb. 16

A historic project

1988 ... 26 years ago. This was the last time a new building was constructed inside the loop of downtown Durham. The city, hoping to stem the tide of flight from our city center to the suburbs, constructed the Omni Hotel and Convention Center, unfortunately tearing down several historic buildings in the process. Since then, there have been many renovations and additions, but inside the loop itself, in the heart of the historic district, new construction projects have been non-existent for 26 years.

Until today.

Today we broke ground on the Church+Main Condominium project, at the corner of East Main Street and North Church Street. Although there used to be historic buildings on this site as well, I can assure you that we did not tear them down. This site has been a small, vacant parking lot for quite some time. We're proud of our project. We think we're leaving downtown better than we found it. We think it fits comfortably into the historic fabric of downtown, while also being a truly modern building. We think folks will LOVE living here, and we have six of the eight units sold. There will be an awesome 2,700 square-foot retail/office space on the ground floor with great views.

Thank you to our buyers. Thank you to the folks at the city who helped us figure out (after 26 years) how to plan and permit a new building in the middle of our historic district. Thank you to the other developers and architects who've been creating amazing projects all over downtown Durham. And thank you to all of you, who love downtown Durham, and cheer us along. Because of you we get to wake up every morning, and go to work doing something we love.

Scott Harmon


Cell tower safety

I read the article in the concerning the cell phone tower ordinances (DN, Feb. 9, bit.ly/1g4isjf). Let me review our issue of safety concerns with the 120-foot Southpoint Tower on Hwy 751 and hence Durham’s future ordinances.

Lightning is attracted to towers; thus towers have lightning rods and grounding systems. The National Weather Service ( lightningsafety.noaa ) states there are three things that attract lightning: height, isolation (like the Southpoint tower standing 60 feet above the tree line), and a pointy top. Add the fact that North Carolina is fourth in the nation and Durham County is the third county in North Carolina for lightning strikes (a house 150 feet from the tower site was burned by lightning in 2012) and the danger grows.

Within this 120-foot catalyst’s fall zone are: a 60-plus year old, 10 inch diameter, high speed pipeline at unknown (prior to 1971) depth pumping natural gas at 600psi, power lines, highway traffic, and church. Per IEEE, a lightning strike can generate 15,000 volts; per an SME, this pipeline will get hit with thousands of volts of electricity via the ground path. Consider also the area’s exposure of lightning arcing off the tower plus another nearby 6-inch pipeline. With generator diesel storage tanks on site, one for each carrier, a very high risk danger will exist for our community. Nearby citizens are concerned for their safety and want to change any ordinance that would allow such a hazard to be created near any Durham neighborhood.

Dolly Fehrenbacher


Not Common Core

Re Bob Wilson’s commentary (DN, Jan. 31, bit.ly/1aSpsju )

I think the News and Observer needs to clarify that the Common Core is not requiring students to attend summer reading camps or repeat third grade, create a reading portfolio, etc. As the newspaper has reported, (quite well and with detail), Read to Achieve is a part of the Excellent Public School Act passed by our legislators in Raleigh. Many states have adopted the Common Core, but not all states will retain students based on third grade test results. Perhaps it would be helpful for readers to see this article: http://bit.ly/1eOECqW

Amelia Tosti