Under the Dome

NC House votes to end protest petitions, but Raleigh grocery opponents get reprieve

The N.C. House took a final 88-29 vote to end protest petitions, a process that helps property owners fight development on neighboring land.

A protest petition makes it harder to rezone property. If enough neighbors sign a petition, the rezoning needs a 75 percent city council vote for approval – instead of a simple majority. Opponents say that gives neighbors too much power over private property, but supporters of the process say it’s an essential tool to protect neighborhoods.

Before the final vote, House members added two provisions designed to appease neighborhood leaders. Rep. Marilyn Avila, a Raleigh Republican, proposed an amendment that allows protest petitions already filed to remain valid.

That’s good news for a group in North Raleigh that’s fighting a proposed grocery store on Falls of Neuse Road. They’ve already filed protest petitions, meaning that if only three of eight city council members vote against the development, the development will be rejected.

“It only stands to reason that we should allow them to complete the process,” said Avila, whose addition to the bill passed unanimously.

Rep. Graig Meyer, a Hillsborough Democrat, added an amendment to require a written 30-day notice of a rezoning hearing to give neighbors “more time to prepare,” he said.

The bill now heads to the Senate.