The North Carolina House of Representatives passed House Bill 201 on March 25, potentially eliminating a tool that community members have used to fight destructive development initiatives.
Protest petitions signed by at least 5 percent of a community near proposed development require those rezoning initiatives to gain the approval of three-quarters of a city council.
According to WRAL, Rep. Paul Stam (R-Wake) argued that this gives disproportionate power to small groups of community members. But those groups need protest petitions to prevent their neighborhoods from coming under attack by community-negligent developers
Raleigh and Durham residents have recently used protest petitions to protect their neighborhoods from auto-centric strip mall development. In Raleigh, Publix dropped its development plans after a group of residents filed their protest petition, likely responding to the pressure before the plan could go to the city council. Despite successfully filing a protest petition in Durham, other community activists failed to prevent the 751 South rezoning project.