The Durham City Council could be called on to decide the fate of a proposed affordable housing development Monday night.
It would be understandable if the zoning map change that’s been requested to enable the construction of Crowne Pointe is overshadowed by other business on the agenda. After all, the other public hearing scheduled for Monday involves the proposed 2011-12 budget and the city’s five-year capital plan, both of which should affect far more people in Durham.
But for many people living in vicinity of the now-vacant 6200 and 6300 Barbee Road, the council’s decision could have an immediate and long-reaching impacts.
Maggie Considine, a real estate broker and resident of Auburn, near the proposed complex, has been encouraging many of her neighbors to make their feelings known to council members.
“Most of the people that I have talked to really do not like the idea of a low-income housing project being built close to our neighborhood,” she said. “They don’t like the idea of the increased traffic on Barbee Road. They don’t like the idea of a concentration of low-income housing that close.
“My personal feeling is that when something like that gets built in a neighborhood, the perception of that neighborhood goes down, and it means that property values tend to go down.”
The requested zoning change would move the couple’s 7.3 acres from a low-medium density residential category to multifamily residential suburban. Despite staff having deemed the change consistent with local planning policy, the Planning Commission on May 10 voted 10-1 against allowing the 58-unit complex to be constructed.
Jim Yamin is the president of Workforce Homestead Inc. of Chapel Hill and one of three developers of the property, along with landowners Leslie Smith and Gregory David of Cary. (The Michigan address listed on planning filings for the married couple is out of date, according to Yamin.)
When asked about the Planning Commission vote, Yamin sighed and chuckled. He then paused before stating that he has worked on affordable housing for 25 years. “Residents justifiably are concerned with the integrity of their neighborhood and remaining crime-free, keeping property values up, traffic, and all that,” Yamin said.
“The place where we kind of get off track in every one of these public hearings and public debates is that I think people’s fears kind of rule the day, unsupported by any kind of objective factual backup to those fears.”