Protest petitions on the chopping block:
Protest petitions most often are filed by neighbors of controversial developments that require a change in zoning. If enough people sign the formal protest, the rezoning requires more municipal board votes to proceed. To take effect, a protest petition requires the signatures of people who own at least 5 percent of a 100-foot buffer around the proposed development. Then the project requires approval of three quarters of the local board. In Cary, for example, that would be six of seven town council votes.
The Republicans' attack on protest petitions represents a huge, gaping pothole in their claim as defender of personal property rights. The zoning issue is not unlike eminent domain. Property may not be taken away, but property values (very often) are, and the property owners deserve a seat at the table. And as far as this complaint:
“In a lot of jurisdictions, the protest petition is the virtual equivalent of shutting down the project,” said Jason Barron, a land-use attorney based in Morrisville who is not involved with the legislature’s debate. The process is vulnerable to abuse, Barron said, because landowners don’t have to present valid concerns with their petition.
Even a modification of the U.S. Constitution doesn’t require a 75 percent vote, he said.
"Valid" is in the eye of the beholder. And if you're going to approve something that local property owners don't want, something that will alter their quality of life permanently, you should be required to convince a supermajority of people (that don't live there) that it should be allowed.