Election sees incumbents cling to officeholding perches
Bullock's sees local chefs band together to help a Durham legend

BCR's Daily Fishwrap Report for May 6, 2010

Planning Flips "Pro" on 751: Yesterday's decision by City/County Planning to recommend approval of a rezoning for the 751 assemblage shouldn't come as a surprise, since staff were careful to note in last month's Planning Commission meeting that while there may be urban planning best-practices reasons to oppose it (like transit access and the merits of placing density on the edge rather than the core of the city), their departmental view is limited to some of the technical reasons by which they initially expressed opposition -- notably impact on wildlife. Though the project likely has the three votes it needs for BOCC approval, residents are working anew on a protest petition, something that could force four of five votes to get the win, a challenging hurdle given the longstanding opposition of Ellen Reckhow and Becky Heron. (Herald-Sun)

BOCC Weighs Budget: The County budget news? Still not good. Delayed replacement of cars (slowing the average tax base growth of the vehicular tax base) partially offsets a $456m rise in real estate values; combined with the on-lining of two branch libraries and increased debt expenses for facilities like the Human Services Complex and new Courthouse, that's likely to drive a 3-cent tax increase, or $60/yr. on a $200k house -- and that's assuming no swoop-in intervention to help the schools budget. (N&O)

Manning Measures DPS: Judge Manning criticized DPS for using in-house developed interim test implements rather than the standard, online test banks in use in Wake, Guilford and elsewhere; new super Eric Becoats promised to implement them in Durham. He also gave the nod to plans to reform schools by firing and replacing principals and teachers at underperforming schools, and was pleased with the East Durham Children's Initiative efforts underway. Manning's moves -- much in line with current national trends, but opposed by some Durham parents who see it as a corporatization and homogenization of public education, something that a parent and the head of Durham's teachers association weigh in on in today's paper. (Herald-Sun #1, #2)

Beyer, Martin to Runoff: Steve Martin's 37% tally came just short of the 40% mark he needed to avoid a runoff election, and parent Natalie Beyer has filed to have her race included in the already-planned June runoff primary for the Democratic Party candidate for US Senate. (Herald-Sun)

Merck Grows Again: Even as the FDA is still working to get their new vaccine facility through all regulatory approval (always a long, multi-year process), Merck's continuing to grow its north Durham operations, this time with plans to add a 40,000 sq. ft. lab and another 50-60 jobs by 2012. Already the workforce at the plant is expected to rise to 400 by winter, up from 275 today. (N&O)

NCCU Celebrates History: NC Central's marking its centennial not simply with the quilt mentioned earlier this week, but with a short book detailing the history of the nation's first publicly-supported liberal arts college for African-Americans. NCCU's seen a decade of significant growth and is now ranked as one of the top ten historically black colleges and universities in America. (Herald-Sun)

Landmarks Still Debated: City Council spent a fair amount of time this Monday debating historic landmark designations, which grant a permanent 50% abatement on local property tax receipts for those properties. Diane Catotti was the main opponent to continuing a number of applications in their current state, suggesting instead that the Council delay a vote until fall or exempt land value from the abatement, but Mayor Bell and other voices won the day in a bizarre and shifting set of alignments changing vote by vote on six different properties. (Herald-Sun)

Foster's Turns 20: It's two decades of serving the community and its bellies for Foster's Market, and the Durham and Chapel Hill establishments are offering free coffee today (BYO mug); tomorrow, wear a Foster's hat or t-shirt in and get a free cookie. (N&O)

A Little Less Charges: Darius Little praised prosecutors and a judge yesterday for having "tossed charges" over a claimed rented and non-returned television, which Little says he helped a down-on-their-luck family acquire. The H-S notes that the assistant DA asked for a continuance of the case, then dropped the charges when denied. Ray Gronberg's story goes into the whole sordid details, if you're still following this one; no new news on whether expected state charges over Little's mediation business will follow, though Little predicts he'll go two for two on the exoneration front. (Herald-Sun)


Steve Bocckino

The Future Land Use Map of the Comp Plan calls for low density residential on this site. There was never any intention of allowing commercial, offices and high density residential here—until now, that is.

I have to ask: If this development is now recommended, is there any purpose to planning in Durham? If influence is all that it takes to reverse a PD decision, perhaps we should simply rank our citizens by the size of their bank accounts in lieu of the whole tedious and expensive "planning" process. At least that method would be transparent.


RE: Little's case being dropped... "Clerks said such actions often occur after witnesses to an alleged crime fail to show up in court to testify."

Doesn't really scream innocent does it.

Legally Silent


BCR will be verifying that the Herald Sun's report was inaccurate. Sadly, their intentional misrepresentation was to create such response as yours (which is not your fault of course, but a result of people placing too much trust into that piece of trash).

Michael Bacon

On the 751 assemblage, how much would it cost the city to start a new route which didn't connect to downtown, but looped up 751, down 54, passed Southpoint, and went back down Fayetteville? Or better yet, start a 7a (or 7b or whatever) line that ran at 15 minute offsets to the other 7 line, but went down to the 751 Assemblage instead of Parkwood?

I wonder -- would the developers be willing to pay the cost of equipment acquisition and front 3 years of projected maintenance costs if the city ate the operating costs?

Erik Landfried

Back of envelope (assuming one additional bus during DATA's typical span of service):

Mon-Sat: $460,000 per year
Sun: additional $54,000 per year

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