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ZONING VOTES COULD BE CHALLENGED

ZONING VOTES COULD BE CHALLENGED

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The High Point City Council's practice of requiring a two-thirds vote to approve some rezoning cases leaves the city open to a lawsuit, city officials learned this week.

If the council turned down a rezoning request because it did not get six votes, the decision could be overturned in court because the city does not have enabling legislation from the General Assembly allowing the six-vote rule, city officials said.Under city ordinance, when the High Point Planning and Zoning Commission recommends a rezoning request be denied, six council members must vote in favor of the request for it to pass. Normally, rezoning cases are approved with a simple majority.

The proposed CBL mall lost 5-3 under the six-vote rule last summer, meaning that hotly contested decision could have been challenged.

CBL & Associates of Chattanooga, Tenn., asked the city to rezone 135 acres between Johnson Street and the proposed Intermediate Loop for a regional mall. The council approved the rezoning in 1988, but that vote was overturned in court and a second rezoning request failed last summer.

The city has followed the policy for a number of years, City Manager H. Lewis Price said Thursday.

``Nobody has ever contested that fact,' Price said. ``The council's feeling is it's law until proven otherwise.'

The council has not decided yet whether to seek the special legislation, Price said.

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