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August 20, 2007


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I concur that Mr. Duke is a capable planner, in a tough position, having the pleasure of reporting to two bosses, the City & County managers. To many however, particularly for advocates of older neighborhoods, Mr. Duke has expressed a autocratic approach to dealing with the general public. He seemed unwilling at times to take neighborhoods concerns into consideration. Frank would often use his authority of interpretation to make a judgment call about zoning "grey areas", but if someone else had a different viewpoint, there was little negotiating. The "my way" or the "highway" approach was frustrating at times. Neighborhood advocates deserve a big willing ear by Planning. We all have full time jobs doing other things, unlike developers, thus our voices are often more difficult to hear. I sincerely hope that our next Planning Director is able to understand, as our City Council often understands, Durham has a very engaged citizenry. We don't let the City or County just run itself. We often let government know when we disagree with a policy or procedure. We are not afraid to put a spotlight on the issue through the media, blogs, or direct contact with our elected officials.

Zoning is such an important issue to all of us, even if we don't realize it. Good zoning provides the necessary positive reinforcement neighborhoods need to insure that their interests are stable. Bad zoning on the other hand can tear neighborhoods apart by allowing inappropriate development in, and create a domino effect. With this negative impact comes all of society's ills. At that point, zoning has helped create a problem for everyone else.

Best wishes Mr. Duke. Let's hope that Mr. Baker & Mr. Ruffin have a good idea of what Durham City/County needs. If not, be sure to tell them!

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