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City pays off developer to end controversy over homes built too close to the road

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The city had originally approved the plans, only realizing later that homes encroached into right-of-way; they’ll now be torn down, then rebuilt

The city of Burlington has reportedly reached an accommodation with a residential developer who had constructed two new homes in the city’s Morgantown community that mistakenly intruded into the city’s right-of-way.

During a city council meeting on Tuesday, Burlington’s city attorney David Huffman announced that the city has negotiated a settlement with DKL Investment Solutions regarding these two, nearly-completed dwellings at 1720 and 1724 Blackwell Road.

Due to an apparent design error, DKL began to build these two residences within the right-of-way for Blackwell Road – only to have a city building inspector spot the mistake just as the structures were nearing completion. In order to avoid the expense of rebuilding these homes, the developer applied for a pair of variances from the city’s board of adjustment. This quasi-judicial body ultimately heard DKL’s request at a lively meeting in December, where a large contingent of residents from the Morgantown area turned out to oppose the developer’s plans.

In light of the developer’s obvious encroachment into the road right-of-way, the board of adjustment was hard pressed to accept the variance. It consequently put off the matter indefinitely in order to let city staff find an administrative solution to the dilemma. In the meantime, the developer’s critics in Morgantown converged on Burlington’s city council in January to complain about the apparent incongruity of DKL’s homes and the larger threat of gentrification to their historically black neighborhood on the north side of town.

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Since the city council isn’t involved in the dispensation of variances, its members could do little more than words of reassurance to the residents of Morgantown. Even so, the city’s legal department continued to pursue a resolution that was finally reached before the council’s latest regularly-scheduled meeting on Tuesday.

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During that evening’s proceedings, Huffman informed the council that he and his colleagues had brokered a deal with DKL that will see two homes removed from the road right-of-way in exchange for some financial remuneration.

“Broadly speaking, the developer DKL is to redesign and reconstruct the two structures,” the city attorney explained, “in order to remove the house’s footprints out of the city’s right of way,”

Huffman added that, in return for these concessions, the developer will receive payment of $156,526 – to which the city has agreed to contribute $25,000, while the remainder will come from its legal liability insurer.

Huffman said that he expects the reconstruction of these homes be completed within the next 60 days.

In addition to the settlement with DKL, Huffman also apprised the city council of a development in a lawsuit that a motorist had filed against a Burlington police officer and another driver after a three-car collision.  According to the city attorney, Alamance County’s chief district court judge Katie Overby has decided to dismiss this complaint, which Brittany Greenamyer had lodged against police officer Raynisha Butler and Ava Honeycutt, a civilian driver who apparently the caused collision.

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