Town of Knightdale backtracks, will allow residents opposing rezoning effort to present at meeting

Investigators

KNIGHTDALE, N.C. (WNCN) – Knightdale residents opposed to a rezoning effort in their town said the muzzle has been lifted from them.

Last week, they complained that the town wouldn’t let them make comments at a public hearing held virtually. The town has since said it changed its mind.

The area of contention is Forestville Village. It’s 53 undeveloped acres slated to be rezoned into a mixed-use subdivision with over 280 single-family homes. Opponents said the town’s infrastructure can’t handle that. 

Knightdale had said it would only allow written comments from the public on the rezoning via its website, email, U.S. Mail, or voicemail. CBS 17 Consumer Investigator asked the attorney general’s office if that was legal.

It said under pandemic statutes enacted by the general assembly, written comments were OK, but said “the board can choose to provide additional opportunities to speak virtually.”

On Monday, zoning opponents found out the developer of the project was going to speak virtually, but they still wouldn’t be allowed to comment virtually. Opponent Tim Shermer said he was pretty angry about that.

“It teed me off,” he said. 

CBS 17 wanted to know what town manager Bill Summers had to say about allowing the developer to speak, but not town residents. Sbraccia sent an email to him Monday and a second email to him Tuesday asking why the developer could speak, but not the public. He got no answer. 

Then, on Tuesday night, Town Clerk Heather Smith sent an email to the opponents with startling news. It said in part, “The Town council has decided to allow a representative from your group to speak live.”

“We were ecstatic,” Shermer said.

The clerk said they would be given 10 minutes to present.

Shermer said he thinks the town changed its mind because of CBS 17’s coverage.

“Channel 17 helped us out a whole lot,” he said.

After opponents speak virtually about this project Wednesday at the zoning hearing, they’ll have to wait for another board to meet in early May to make recommendations. Then, in mid-May, the town council will vote to either cancel or approve the project. 

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