Saturday, March 21, 2015

Mainstream Papers Go All Out To Maintain Monopoly Rhino Times

Article in this weeks Rhino Times titled Mainstream Papers Go All Out to Maintain Monopoly.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Pee Dee Post Editorial on Public Notice Issue Continues To Evolve

HAT TIP: THE PEE DEE POST and permission granted to repost this editorial in regards to Public Notice laws in the State of North Carolina

Our Turn: Public notice issue continues to evolve

A editorial

The Richmond County Daily Journal lauded Sen. Tom McInnis in its weekend edition for signing on to co-sponsor SB 129.
And no wonder, as traditional print newspapers like the Daily Journal — and not the public — will benefit most. How? Senate Bill 129 protects traditional print newspapers’ monopoly on where public notices are legally required to be published.

The bill, as drafted, would place a cap on what print newspapers could charge for second-run legal ads and mandate that such legally required public notice advertisements be placed online for free. If the newspaper in question doesn’t have a website, then the ad would be placed on the North Carolina Press Association website. Even papers like the Daily Journal acknowledge readers don’t flock to local government websites; in all likelihood, the general public traffic to the NCPA site is even lower.

For far too long, newspaper associations have successfully lobbied lawmakers for what amounts to hefty government subsidies — read: your taxpayer dollars — in order to make ends meet. The compromise that Sen. Norman Sanderson has drafted would save taxpayer precious little money but continues to reinforce traditional print newspapers’ unconstitutional expectation of a free lunch.
In this fiscal year that ends June 30 alone, Richmond County and the city of Rockingham governments will spend nearly $57,000 in legal advertising with the Daily Journal — every penny of that required by law. The Pee Dee Post could offer a better service (read: higher visibility and increased readership) for a much better price — less than half that, in fact. But if local governments want to place those legal notices on, someone has to approve spending even more of your hard-earned dollars. Local officials have no good choice.
It’s time the law that requires  seldom-read, back-page buried, black-and-white notices that offer readers no engagement (and barely a font that can be read without a magnifying glass) catches up with technology.

A true compromise would change SB 129 to enabling legislation to allow local governments in jurisdiction which enjoy digital-only newspapers the option of choosing to place legal ads in either the traditional print newspaper or the digital newspaper. This would have the effect of:

* Forcing all newspapers, in print and digital, to offer a competitive rate;

* Give the local governments the ability to choose where they get the most bang for (your) buck; and

* Save taxpayers a whole lot of money

One thing neither the NC Press Association nor any publisher of traditional print newspapers want to dwell on is the declining number of paid subscribers. With few rare exceptions across America, the number of people paying to read the print newspaper is on the decline. So forcing governments to spend your money on that is nothing more than legacy media grasping at a final chance to hang on. Well let’s make one thing clear: The news is not only for the elite, not only for people who generally forget they have a print newspaper delivered to their frontyard flower bush until it’s time to dig it out each morning.

It’s time for the law to consider new media, such as digital newspapers like The Pee Dee Post, Bladen Online, and  and give them the attention they deserve. Unlike traditional print newspapers in their corresponding communities, these on-the-rise digital media outlets offer more affordable rates, top-notch reader engagement and by and large a much wider audience. Each has become an information platform with which, simply put, their traditional-print counterparts can not keep up.

If the effort is to increase public awareness of the issue of individual legal notices, SB 129 isn’t the answer. Even McInnis knows that. He told The Pee Dee Post on Friday that SB 129 will do … “for now.”

“I support Senate Bill 129 because it gives a starting point to allow local newspapers to publish legal notices on line in addition to printed version,” McInnis said.” This is a compromise to several requests to go digital only for such notices.  I hope that this will be a start to legal notices being published not only in local newspapers but also in a digital format which will create savings for local tax payers.”

Laura Nakoneczny, NCPA member services director, told The Pee Dee Post that its charge is not to look out for readers.

“The bottom line is that NCPA remains primarily a newspaper organization — dedicated to the needs of the ‘print’ press,” Nakoneczny wrote to the Post. “We don’t claim to be an organization that represents all news media, and we only pursue the legislative agenda and other interests of (print) newspapers.”

Well, thank you, Ms. Nakoneczny, for your honesty. Truly.

SB 129 is not the right choice for you, for Richmond County or for North Carolina. It’ll likely get through the General Assembly, but stay tuned. There’s much work to be done. We look forward to working with lawmakers across NC to truly serve the public.

Each editorial is an opinion piece that aims to serve the greater good. It’s message does not necessarily reflect the opinion of any individual who works with The Pee Dee Post.

Monday, March 9, 2015

N.C. Press Assoc. Editorial Boards Starting Their Campaign To Keep The Monopoly on Public Notice in N.C.

Since the start of the 2015 North Carolina General Assembly we have seen 2 award winning head cheerleaders for the N.C. Press Association file bills in both houses to keep the Monopoly Paid Paper public notice laws stay the way they have been on the books since 1940's. Here is the post about this CLICKHERE

It is always great to see the N.C. Press Association come out with talking points for their constituents to editorialize in their own papers about this bill and how it is not about the money but we all know it is all about the money.For example here are some links to what I have been talking about
The Robesonian HERE
Hendersonville Lightning HERE

but the best post this past week from the N.C. Press Association Public Notice Monopoly goes to the Richmond County Daily Journal with a editorial from March 7, 2015 titled OUR VIEW: McInnis shows leadership on public notices CLICKHERE

Here is what was said in editorial
"The latest U.S. Census Bureau figures estimate that roughly a fifth of North Carolinians don’t have home Internet access. Taking legals out of the local newspaper would leave about 2 million Tar Heels in the dark."

So let's take what was said and turn it upside down for a minute. the census bureau is stating that 80% of North Carolinians have access to the internet. But we need to still have a state law that makes cities and counties have to spend money to publish in a dwindling customer base called a paid paper maybe only getting to 20% of the population in North Carolina as a yearly subscriber to a paid paper in their community.

This public notice law was put into the books on the 1940's well before the computer or the internet ever came into existence. Now in 2015 we have according to the Census Bureau 80% of population have home internet access in North Carolina. Let's save time and money and allow cities and counties all over the state of North Carolina use their own web sites to publish public notices.

It would be great to see our state representatives understand that wasting taxpayer money with a state law to a dwindling customer base is not the way public notices need to be delivered in the State of North Carolina just ask the triad business journal HERE with a title"Triad daily newspapers see continued circulation declines". they had that to report last year.

Public Notice laws should be the best way to get your message out to the biggest percentage of the population and as we see from the Census Bureau it is through the internet just like classifieds have practically left the papers for Craiglist. This is 2015 let's act like we know that a computer was invented and time to update these laws to allow this information to be made available online and not in a Paid Paper.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

N.C. Press Association Monopoly Protection Act Bill Has Been Filed by Award Winning Reps

The 2014 winner of the N.C Press Association Lassiter Award N.C. Senator Norman Sanderson has now filed a bill S#129 titled Legal Notices/Require Internet Publication. which needs to have a new title " N.C. Press Association Monopoly Protection Act.

When will our North Carolina General Assembly start to understand that this is the year 2015 not 1949 it is time to revamp all public notices save taxpayer money and let local and county government put these notices on their own web sites. Having a state law which states that public notices have to go through "paid subscribers" which means paid papers is ludicrous.

Let me give you an example right here in Guilford County. We have a weekly publication which is free not a paid paper like the local Greensboro News and Record called the North West Observer. This weekly has 100% distribution to every household in Oak Ridge, Summerfield and Stokesdale. By law we make these 3 cities have to go through the Greensboro News and Record which has only a 20% distribution. So as you can see a weekly paper with 100% distribution should be the best place to have public notices to their constituents but by law they have to use the Greensboro News and Record at 20%, this makes no sense.

Hopefully we will se some drastic changes on the state level in regards to Public Notices but as we see from this past week with N.C. Senator Sanderson filed the bill above, we also have on the N.C. House side Rep. Marilyn Avila. She filed the same bill in the house side in H#156

a quote from Wilson Times on award
Rep. Marilyn Avila, a Wake County Republican, accepted the William C. Lassiter First Amendment award during the North Carolina Press Association's annual meeting last month
"The award -- which is among the highest honors the press association bestows -- is named for William C. Lassiter, an open-government attorney and former general counsel for the newspaper trade group.
"We don't give the William C. Lassiter First Amendment Award every year, and there's a reason for that," High said. "A true champion for the right to know doesn't come along every year. When someone does rise above the fray, we honor and celebrate that.""

So for the past 2 years the N.C. Press Association has bestowed this award to the 2 State Representatives who filed a bill which should be titled N.C. Press Association Monopoly Protection Act.

Time for drastic changes in our Public Notice laws and hopefully will see these 2 bills collect dust and never see the light of day.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Rhino Times Finally Gets On Board With Public Notice for Weekly Papers as a Part of State Law

This past week Rhino Times 2-12-2015 in it's Short Stack section of paper had this to say,

"The Greensboro City Council is obsessed with Senate Bill 36 which will mean some of them will have to move if they want to get reelected to the City Council.  The way they talk you’d think it was the end of the world.
But there are other bills being introduced down in Raleigh that are important to me.  It appears that several bills will be introduced to end the monopoly that mainstream newspapers have on legal advertising.  When the laws were passed it made sense to require legal notices be placed in a major newspaper in the area, increasing the likelihood that interested parties would find them.
But today there are so many other ways to advertise.  Free weeklies is one of my favorites, but there is also radio and television, billboards, web pages, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Vine.  And while I admit I don’t know what a couple of those things are, I know that putting information on our website works and is really inexpensive.
Why should the state require advertisements be placed in mainstream newspapers?  It doesn’t make sense, in particular because the mainstream newspapers benefitting from the law are mainly liberal and the legislature is now run by Republicans."

We also had a Guilford County Delegation meeting last week on 2-12-2015 where Triadwatch spoke in regards to this issue of allowing non paid subscriber papers in Guilford County to be allowed to be a part of public notices in North Carolina like weekly papers triad city beat, yes weekly, rhino times and Northwest Observer. Here is a link to the video and me speaking from the 5;45 minute mark to the 7;32 minute mark here is the link

Hopefully we will see a local delegate from Guilford County propose a bill to allow the weekly papers to be a part of the North Carolina public notice laws. One aspect that is very relevant is that now you need to pay for a paper to see the public notice but if this law were to come to fruition then this part of public notices will be free to all the citizens by going to a kiosk to pick up their free weekly paper to see the public notice. It will be interesting to see if the lobbyist for the N.C. Press Association will fight these bills to allow the weekly papers a part of the public notice pie.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Public Notices in North Carolina Needs to Be Open To Weekly Newspapers With One Simple Fix

There has been a lot of talk about public notices in North Carolina with N.C. Senator Trudy Wade trying to get legislation passed to revamp public notice laws to 2015 standards not 1949 standards. There was a time where the only form to advertise public notices was in the local paper but now with the invention of the computer, smart phones and internet it is time to think differently.

Let's take some small steps in this process and the obvious is to get some wording taken out of the North Carolina General Statute. Here is what is written in the North Carolina General Statute 1-597
§ 1-597.  Regulations for newspaper publication of legal notices, advertisements, etc.
Whenever a notice or any other paper, document or legal advertisement of any kind or description shall be authorized or required by any of the laws of the State of North Carolina, heretofore or hereafter enacted, or by any order or judgment of any court of this State to be published or advertised in a newspaper, such publication, advertisement or notice shall be of no force and effect unless it shall be published in a newspaper with a general circulation to actual paid subscribers which newspaper at the time of such publication, advertisement or notice, shall have been admitted to the United States mails in the Periodicals class in the county or political subdivision where such publication, advertisement or notice is required to be published, and which shall have been regularly and continuously issued in the county in which the publication, advertisement or notice is authorized or required to be published, at least one day in each calendar week for at least 25 of the 26 consecutive weeks immediately preceding the date of the first publication of such advertisement, publication or notice
Now as we see from this legislation that dates back to the 1940's it makes public notices have to be done in "Paid Subscribers" . Paid subscribers are papers like the Greensboro News and Record,Carolina Peacemaker, High Point Enterprise and Jamestown News in Guilford County.
We have a plethora of weekly papers that can provide public notices in Guilford County and they charge NOTHING to pick up a weekly paper but are locked out of the process because of this law that states it has to be a paid paper. Yes Weekly, Triad City Beat, Rhino Times and Northwest Observer are a few of the weekly papers in Guilford County that do a good job of informing us on local politics and should be able to provide public notices in this county. A great example of the absurdity of this law is the Northwest Observer which covers cities like Oak Ridge, Summerfield and Stokesdale and provides their papers for  FREE at no cost to the consumer . The cities I referenced have to go through the Greensboro News and Record to provide their public notices, when in reality it would be to the benefit of the citizens in Northwest part of Guilford County to get their public notices through the weekly Observer than News and Record because more citizens are getting home drop off of the weekly than subscribers to the News and Record in this part of county. State Representative John Blust tried to make his point on this but went on deaf ears to the state representatives who are scared to piss off the local newspapers to get negative press on them and to keep their monopoly on public notices because of outdated state law.
My suggestion as you can see in the above state law 1-597 is a small step but needs to be done in a county like Guilford who has weekly papers who can provide this information. We need to get a bill passed either local bill or statewide to take out "PAID SUBSCRIBERS" from the state law so that weekly papers can have a chance at providing this information to the citizens of Guilford County.
This is a small step to take out 2 words in a law but am sure the lobbyist and their state cheerleaders will fight this till the end. We will see what happens but hopefully we can get some traction with weekly newspapers all over the state and get a bill passed to take out "PAID SUBSCRIBERS" from NGS 1-597

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Hypocrite TREBIC CARTEL Member Lawyer Tom Terrell delays Friendly Hobbs For Other Reason?

Looking at the Triad Business Journal today 1-8-2015, Halpern has asked for a 60 day continuance to a major rezoning case off of Hobbs Road and Friendly Ave. but in reality he is asking for a delay until his Triad Real Estate and Building Industry Coalition "TREBIC CARTEL" cronies on the North Carolina State level will try to get Protest Petition completely off the laws in this state and screw established neighborhoods in Greensboro and other places in this state.

The reason we call Tom Terrell lawyer for the developers a hypocrite is because when it is beneficial to his clients he will use this tool called a protest petition but when he needs the votes on council he wants to completely do away with this N.C. State Law. Here is a blog post on TREBIC TOM's blog talking about his hypocrisy with help from local developer Marty Kotis HERE

TREBIC Tom writes this in Triad Business Journal
"In an email copied to the Triad Business Journal, attorney Tom Terrell — who represents Halpern — said the continuance is being sought "so that it can consider alternative designs that are consistent with the offered conditions."

This is total bull shit because all he is doing is  delaying the votes he does not have to see if the State of North Carolina will do away with Protest Petitions and only needs five votes to pass the Greensboro City Council instead of 7 with Protest Petition. There was a article out today in the Greensboro News and Record that said both Council members Hoffman and Hightower are NO votes on this rezoning and TREBIC CARTEL Tom can count and know he doesn't have the votes to pass but delay this get help from cronies in Raleigh and all I need is 5 instead of 7 like the old days where King Zoning Stud Henry Isaacson had enough councilmembers in his back pocket to get 5 votes each time.

Now with this Friendly and Hobbs rezoning we have seen both TREBIC CARTEL Tom Terrell  try twice and King Zoning Stud Henry Isaacson try once to rezone this to no avail . When will these developers ever quit No means No on this property let it stay residential as it should be . There is plenty of places all over Greensboro for this development to happen and the corner of hobbs and friendly is not it.

This case will be delayed more than just 60 days believe me it will be delayed till they can get the law abolished on state level.We will see a continuance after a continuance from TREBIC CARTEL MEMBER Tom Terrell.

We also have local Village Idiot John Hammer from Rhino Times chiming in on this rezoning case stating this

"Before Trader Joe’s pulled out, the smart money said that the rezoning request would have definitely passed the City Council.  There was some question as to whether it would have passed with the seven votes to overcome the protest petition, but those who count votes said a solid seven were there.
There are a couple of considerations for those who oppose the rezoning from Residential Single-family R-3 to Conditional District-Commercial-Medium CD-C-M.  One is that the protest petition is going away.  The state legislature intended to do away with it last year and it will certainly meet its demise in 2015.  So the neighborhood has more clout now than it will if this is defeated and comes back up next year when, without a protest petition, the rezoning request will need only a simple majority to pass.  And it looks like, with a seven-member council also on the horizon, that could be four votes.

Lawyers like Tom Terrell and Henry Isaacson use these delay tactics like a playbook and they will always count votes well before these rezoning cases come before council and if they do not have the votes they will delay or completely take it off the books. We will see where this goes but to me it looks like Tom wants a little help from my CRONY friends at the state level who don't know shit about this law and only are getting spoon fed information from TREBIC CARTEl lobbyist on how bad this law of Protest Petition is but in reality it works just fine.

I know about Protest Petition because our neighborhood used it and it actually worked out for the better for both sides of our rezoning case. Protest Petition is a state law that needs to stay or neighborhoods all over North Carolina will get ramrodded by developers and their TREBIC CARTEL members like we see in the triad area of North Carolina

If you want to read more on protest petitions CLICKHERE

and on this blog under protest petition CLICKHERE

Monday, July 21, 2014

Ohio Judge Rules That Free Newspapers Can Compete to Publish Legal Notices

HAT TIP : Legal Notice Online

Ohio Judge Rules That Free Newspapers Can Compete to Publish Legal Notices
A Common Pleas judge in Ohio has ruled that a free newspaper can publish legal notices in Darke County, Ohio. The Ohio statute, unlike most other states does not require explicitly that paid circulation publications are the only vehicle for public notices.  The statute was changed in 2011. The next step will be to allow online publications which have more readers and would lower costs for municipalities nationwide, the right to compete as well. Newspaper trade associations have lobbied successfully to keep notices in print. This case has already been appealed once and was remanded back to the trial court for procedural reasons according to an article in AP article in Columbus CEO Magazine . According to the article, this time when the case is appealed the court of appeals will need to address the actual statute.   As paid circulation publications continue to lose subscribers, perhaps free publications will provide greater access to the public for legal notices and save us all money.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

North Carolina Home Builders Assoc. Paid Lobbyist BS e mail on Repeal of Protest Petitions

North Carolina Home Builders paid lobbyist screwing established neighborhoods all over the state of North Carolina with this bull shit e mail to all state members to repeal protest petitions .

From: "Martin, Lisa" <

Date: June 23, 2014 at 4:29:03 PM EDT
To: "'Rep. Adams'" <>>, "'Rep. Brawley'" <>>, "'Rep. Bumgardner'" <>>, "'Rep. Catlin'" <>>, "'Rep. Cunningham'" <>>, "'Rep. Dixon'" <>>, "'Rep. Hager'" <>>, "'Rep. Hanes'" <>>, "'Rep. Hardister'" <>>, "'Rep. Harrison'" <>>, "'Rep. IIer'" <>>, "'Rep. insko'" <>>, "'Rep. McElraft'" <>>, "'Rep. Millis'" <>>, "'Rep. Richardson'" <>>, "'Rep. Stam'" <>>, "'Rep. Steinburg'" <>>, "'Rep. Stevens'" <>>, "'Rep. Wells'" <>>, "'Rep. Whitmire'" <>>, "'Rep. Avila'" <>>, "'Rep. Baskerville'" <>>, "'Rep. Blackwell'" <>>, "'Rep. Brown'" <>>, "'Rep. Conrad'" <>>, "'Rep. Faircloth'" <>>, "'Rep. Farmer-Butterfield'" <>>, "'Rep. Jones'" <>>, "'Rep. Lambeth'" <>>, "'Rep. Malone'" <>>, "'Rep. Martin'" <>>, "'Rep. Murry'" <>>, "'Rep. Pierce'" <>>, "'Rep. Queen'" <>>, "'Rep. Schaffer'" <>>, "'Rep. Setzer'" <>>, "'Rep. Shepard'" <>>, "'Rep. Tine'" <>>, "'Rep. Waddell'" <>>, "'Rep. Wray'" <>>, "'Rep. Bell'" <>>, "'Rep. Brandon'" <>>, "'Rep. Brawley'" <>>, "'Rep. Brisson'" <>>, "'Rep. Brody'" <>>, "'Rep. Brown'" <>>, "'Rep. Bryan'" <>>, "'Rep. Dobson'" <>>, "'Rep. Dollar'" <>>, "'Rep. Elmore'" <>>, "'Rep. Fulghum'" <>>, "'Rep. Holley'" <>>, "'Rep. Horn'" <>>, "'Rep. Jordan'" <>>, "'Rep. Lewis'" <>>, "'Rep. Lucas'" <>>, "'Rep. Ramsey'" <>>, "'Rep. Speciale'" <>>, "'Rep. Terry'" <>>, "'Rep. Presnell'" <>>, "'Rep. Wells'" <>>, "Rep. Tim Moffitt" <>>, 'Hugh Blackwell ' <>>, "'Larry Hall (>)'" <>>, "'Mitchell Setzer (>)'" <>>, "'Hugh Blackwell '" <>>, "'>'" <>>, "'>'" <>>
Subject: Please Retain Sect. 2.7 of S 493 (Protest Petition Repeal)

Dear Representatives Moffitt and Murry, Vice Chairs and Members:

493 2014 Regulatory Reform Act<> will be before the House Regulatory Reform Committee tomorrow (6/24) for consideration.  The NC Home Builders Association strongly supports this bill.  In order to add clarity to the misinformation that has been spread regarding Section 2.7 Repeal Protest Petitions, we offer the following information.

Protest petitions are authorized for all cities in NC (there is no protest petition authority for counties).  Filing of a protest petition may be done when a person owns only a small portion of the area surrounding a municipal rezoning tract. Sufficient signatures on the petition elevate the city council vote requirement from a simple majority to a super-majority (75%) before the rezoning ordinance adoption is allowed.

Protest petitions have been in the NC statues since the 1920s and were conceived in an era that was pre-information age to address the issue of informing the public of pending land use changes.  Planning laws and practices have changed since then.  Strict laws require notice of rezonings to neighbors and the public, including signs on the property, mailings to neighbors within a certain distance, electronic notification and publication in common news outlets.  Most developers meet with neighbors (often because they are either required or strongly encouraged to by the city or town).  Concerns are addressed, compromises made and some applications are withdrawn. Most cities have made Conditional Use zonings (by far the majority of cases in NC) a legislative process to allow neighboring property owners to have more involvement in the rezoning process.

Protest petitions are a NIMBY’s dream (NIMBY= Not in My Backyard).  Modern growth management principles promote infill, redevelopment, higher densities and mixed uses.  Protest petitions present an unnecessary and sometimes impossible hurdle for project approval, even though Conditional Use zoning and modernized land development ordinance requirements incorporate techniques to minimize and mitigate impacts to surrounding properties.  There is no power granted to citizens greater than the power bestowed by the protest petition. With a protest petition, one person can take away an entire city’s right to have a zoning decision decided by majority vote.  Protest petitions do not represent the citizen “David” against the developer “Goliath”.  Neighborhood groups and those supporting the use of protest petitions as a planning tool refuse to acknowledge the many instances when protest petitions are used to deny a rezoning that is recommended by a professional planning staff, consistent with the adopted growth plan and even identical to the zoning on adjacent lots.  Developers may win or lose; however, the only "winner" is the neighbor with unilateral power to alter the manner in which duly elected officials can transact the public’s business.

Municipal protest petition authority is an unfair and outdated concept and must be repealed!  Please retain Section 2.7 of S 493.



Lisa D. Martin
Director of Government Affairs
North Carolina Home Builders Association
5580 Centerview Drive, Suite 415
Raleigh, NC 27606
919-676-9090 or 800-662-7129

[NCHBA_small (2)]

Friday, June 20, 2014

Argument for Protest Petitions in North Carolina State Law by Ben Kuhn

We have come to find out that the Triad Real Estate and Building Industry Coalition also known as the "TREBIC CARTEL"  has successfully snuck in wording of a bill that will repeal the Protest Petition for good with no compromise or tweaking of this state law just a complete repeal. Here is a few reports linked from this week.
Charlotte Observer HERE
Greensboro News and Record HERE
The sponsors of this bill admitted an intent to reduce the bargaining power of neighborhood groups in zoning fights from the Durham Herald Sun . So now we know that neighborhoods all over this state don't have a chance against the Crony Capitalist and their lobbyist who are paid to sway minds and votes. If this repeal comes to fruition than you can kiss your neighborhood good bye when the commercial crony capitalist come a knockin.
Talked with Ben Kuhn who agreed to allow me to repost his argument FOR Protest Petitions in North Carolina State Law here is the post

The Argument For Protest Petitions

Article Date: Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Written By: Ben Kuhn

When a rezoning application is filed, nearby residents are often faced with potential development adjacent to their community that is in conflict with their expectations based on what has always been there and what previously could have been developed under the existing zoning. The rub ordinarily arises in situations where a rezoning proposed on an adjacent property will mark a stark contrast from the zoning and/or character of development of the property already existing next door. The impacts of such a rezoning on the neighboring properties can be significant. The results of such developments can and do affect neighboring property values. This can harm property owners and the community in general.

The developer, their lawyer, architect, land planner, traffic engineer, and others pursuing a significant rezoning case usually have regular professional interaction with staff and elected officials in a number of ways. They lobby and speak directly with planning staff and elected officials. They attend and network at Chamber of Commerce meetings, receptions, downtown booster events, holiday functions, professional development seminars, fund-raisers, UDO “charrettes,” etc. There they meet, discuss matters, spend time to gain trust, and achieve some level of familiarity with and among staff and elected officials. These same officials then make decisions on matters such as rezoning cases brought by developers which often affect people living next door more than anyone else. These interactions happen day in and day out all year, every year, and in this manner developers are able to address issues and respond to questions about specific rezoning cases much more deftly and directly than the ordinary citizen. This level of familiarity takes time and money — neither of which ordinary citizens possess in large measure. This is how the gears of local power often grind. I am not here to say that is bad, or there is anything wrong with developers and others seeking out such relationships and building influence in this manner. That’s the way the world turns and how one can legally influence how power is exercised.

However, no ordinary citizen can reasonably counter-balance such input and influence with just one vote for one town council member in a particular municipal district once every four years.  The ballot box is not much refuge for these impacted citizens when the issues before the larger electorate have little, if anything, to do with the major impact arising from one rezoning application voted on three years ago which has already resulted in a “monstrous” development being built next to their “little slice of heaven.” Realistically, few persons affected can vote in any particular election cycle for the elected official that represents their district (and perhaps for one or two at-large members on the ballot). Let’s be honest: That’s not much. Without the balance-shifting power of the statutory protest petition, there is little that one or a few neighbors can do to register their objection or opposition to a particular rezoning in a manner that can influence elected officials and protect their interests.

Our Legislature has therefore concluded that there must be a mechanism that gives residents a tool to balance such substantial influence and power as exercised by local elected officials at the behest and request of developers. At its core, the protest petition is a reasonable moderating influence to ensure that neighboring properties are zoned and developed in a cohesive and complimentary manner for the benefit of everyone in the community. It is designed to provide one power and advantage to the ordinary citizen, which if it did not exist, could result in those most impacted having little in their quiver to combat overwhelming development interests and municipal authority.

The protest petition and its 75 percent super-majority vote requirement reasonably readjust the scales when a developer requests elected officials to exercise their power to approve a zoning change. This is similar to what happens in the context of a variance application requiring a four-fifths vote to be approved.

A variance application basically requests that a city or town overlook technical compliance with an ordinance where strict compliance would present unnecessary hardship, and where the variance requested is consistent with the spirit and intent of the ordinance and is in the public interest. When an elected body is tasked with voting on a rezoning application in the face of a protest petition much the same forces are at play. The developer wants something different than what is then the written law of the land — i.e., the changed zoning status of the property in question. When asked to change a zoning classification in the face of opposition from those most directly affected, decision-makers should reasonably come to near consensus that the proposed rezoning serves the public interest and should be approved despite the serious impacts upon immediate neighbors arising from the decision.

Some suggest that fairness and balance exist due to public notice requirements, staff and planning board involvement, and public records laws. However, this ignores the fact that developers and their team of professionals are experienced in navigating these waters and have crucial input and influence at every stage of the process. The family at 742 Evergreen Terrace does not. They likely have never sat down and met with, or even spoken to, a town staffer, planning board or town council member — ever — about anything. The process is usually so foreign to ordinary citizens that they do not understand that even a decision as to when to file the rezoning petition has major implications.

There are numerous moving pieces to the decision-making process involving a rezoning. When a developer comes to town council with a proposed change that will alter the nature and character of an existing zoned property, that developer should be expected to bring their “A” game. Developers should (and some do) anticipate the reasonable concerns of neighbors such that the proposed changes will be welcomed by and benefit those affected. If this were done in every case, of course, the protest petition as a “citizen weapon” would rarely be pulled out of the bag.

However, until we arrive at a day when the developer, staff, planning board, town council, and affected neighbors can all be expected to waltz through rezoning proceedings “happily-ever-after” with everyone welcoming changes brought by someone who often has no connection to the impacted neighborhood other than a desire to reap benefit from its location and development potential, the protest petition is a tool that must remain in the bag to protect nearby property owners. As a realist, and perhaps jaded a bit by some of the rezoning and other land use disputes in which I have represented those who oppose a major zoning change, we are just not there . . . and probably never will be. Until then, the Legislature must continue to ensure that the protest petition is a tool available to protect the interests of North Carolina citizens.

Ben Kuhn is the owner of the The Kuhn Law Firm, PLLC and practices law in Raleigh. He can be reached at

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Newspapers Publishing “Public Notices”–Gov’t Subsidizing the Media

HAT TIP : Stephen Frank's California Political News

Government forces people to pay for ads in newspapers–”public notices”–that few read. This partially explains why newspapers do not take on city hall.  Government “certifies” which newspaper get the business and money–so shut your pages to exposing corruption and take the money and run.
There is an alternative being suggested in Arizona.  Put the notices on the Internet.  A dead tree paper is put in a bird cage or used to start of fire in the fireplace.  Put the “public notices”on the Internet and they will be found 24/7 and we save the environment.
If not, how about this:  “- A law that require them to publish public notices and take them to every home in the community whether or not the resident subscribes to the paper at no additional charge beyond the current prices.
- A law that would require their database to be indexed and searchable by Google and the other search engines, completely open to the public, and advertised via Google Ad Words and other online measures, and this cost should not be passed on to member organizations, subscribers or submitters.”

If it a public notice, the public should get it–all the public–force the newspapers to give away  the papers that publish the notices.
What do you think–free market for public notices or government making laws that use private money to subsidize dead tree’s?

 Newspapers: “It’s Not About the Money”
By Lynne LaMaster, Intellectual Conservative,  2/16/12
The Arizona legislature is considering a bill, HB 2403, that would remove the print newspapers’ monopoly on publishing public notices. Lynne LaMaster, who runs several eNews websites in Arizona, gave this speech today to the House Committee voting on the bill.
This entire experience has been very enlightening to me. I have learned far more than I ever imagined.
One of the most fascinating items I learned, is that according to the Newspaper organizations, this really isn’t about the money. It’s about their duty as “watchdogs” to protect the public interest by publishing Public Notices in their respective newspapers.
Therefore, if this measure doesn’t pass, may I suggest that an alternate piece of legislation be considered. This would be:
- A law that would require newspapers to publish public notices in the same font and using the same white space as is on their home page featured story, at no additional charge beyond current prices to either the submitter or the subscriber.
- A law that would require them to offer translations into Spanish or other common languages of the community when appropriate, publishing in both English and the other language at no additional charge beyond the current prices.
- A law that would require better formatting, links that are easily pulled out of the content maps and photos where appropriate at no additional charge beyond the current prices.
- A law that require them to publish public notices and take them to every home in the community whether or not the resident subscribes to the paper at no additional charge beyond the current prices.
- A law that would require their database to be indexed and searchable by Google and the other search engines, completely open to the public, and advertised via Google Ad Words and other online measures, and this cost should not be passed on to member organizations, subscribers or submitters.
I’d be willing to bet that if you were to consider a law such as the one I just outlined, you’d find the newspapers even more vociferously and vehemently opposed to that law than the one you’re considering here right now. Because we all know that it IS about the money and protecting their monopoly and power.
Of course, if you were to allow online publications to publish public notices, we could do all these things automatically. Because we are more than a simply a newspaper online. We know the Internet and its capabilities and we know how to use it properly, efficiently and effectively.

Guilford County North Carolina Public Employee Salaries compliments of Rhino Times and Links to Charlotte Salaries


Each year the Rhino Times has published the salaries of public employees in Guilford County N.C. Since they do not cover the City of High Point with the new restructured Rhino Times here is a list of the other salaries they do cover.

Guilford County Schools Salaries CLICKHERE
City of Greensboro Salaries CLICKHERE
Guilford County Salaries CLICKHERE

It would be interesting to see if the Greensboro News and Record would provide this transparency to the citizens of Guilford County like we see down in Charlotte where the Charlotte News and Observer provides all this information on their web site

N.C. Government Salary Base CLICKHERE

N.C. University Salary Base CLICKHERE

Charlotte Mecklenburg County  Schools  CLICKHERE

City of Charlotte CLICKHERE

Mecklenburg County Salary CLICKHERE

Salaries of 9 Counties surrounding the Queen City CLICKHERE

Raleigh News and Observer Tax Delinquency Bill to Wake County Citizens is ????????

$25,224 is the bill paid to the Raleigh News and Observer to post for only one day in paper the tax delinquency for Wake County N.C. in 2013. This state law needs to be repealed because the bigger counties in this state already have this information available for anyone to see 24-7 on their county web site. No need to waste taxpayers money on this state law that needs a complete overhaul.

Looking back at the other major counties Mecklenburg County had a bill of $83,049 while in the past Guilford County had a bill around $90,000 but went to a request process and now it is only close to  $5,500 in Jamestown News.

Citizens all over this state need to be aware of the wasteful spending that goes on daily at our local and state government and the need to overhaul state law to maybe understand that the internet can provide this information to 80% of our population saving taxpayer monies in the process. Having mandated state law to provide this information only in a paid paper is absurd. Time to understand it is 2014 and we have a computer to provide this information to the masses.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Charlotte Observer 2014 Tax Delinquency Bill $83,089 for 1 Day in Paper

Every year state law mandates that each county in the State of North Carolina provide a list of the tax delinquents for the previous year. Charlotte Observer's bill for 2014 =$83,089.
Taxpayers all over this state are getting hosed for having to pay this bill each year. In Guilford County they did it a little bit different because they were going way above and beyond to provide this information putting it in 3 newspapers Greensboro News and Record, High Point Enterprise and Carolina Peacemaker when in reality it only had to provide it in one publication. The Guilford County Commissioners finally made a request for proposal for this yearly bill and saved over $92,000 on this yearly hand out to the paid papers here is a link to that report CLICKHERE
Hopefully the citizens of Mecklenburg County can see what happened in Guilford County bid the process out and get the lowest bidder to provide this information. It will save plenty of taxpayers money in the process.