DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – “We have had really an unprecedented level of development in southeast Durham,” Sara Young, director of the Durham City-County Planning Department, told city councilmembers Thursday.
If you take a drive through southeast Durham, you’ll see no shortage of construction. Construction sites are on nearly every major road. Many of those area areas were previously wooded. Now, new neighborhoods are popping up faster than ever before.
“Someone compared this to approximately two decades ago when the South Point Mall was being built and there was a lot of development there. It happened much more gradually over a long period of time, was not so concentrated,” said Young.
The unusually high pace of development comes with concerns about impacts to water quality, traffic and open space.
“It’s been coming up in our council meetings for the last few months pretty aggressively,” said DeDreana Freeman, Ward 1 council member, during Thursday’s council work session.
City-county staff are offering up solutions to some of those issues like increasing well water sampling, placing more restrictions on developers and educating homeowners about local developments. However, those changes won’t come without consequence.
“Every requirement in our ordinance adds cost to development. Every hurdle, every standard we put in place to try to and provide some good community outcome, adds cost to a development,” explained Young.
Those costs will likely be passed down to homebuyers who are already facing higher costs than in the past. Still, Durham leaders want to make sure developers don’t go unchecked.
“Development takes quite a bit of time in this city, in this county. Time is money but also quality of life matters,” said Leonardo Williams, Ward 3 Council Member.