Open Thread on Northern Orange

OK people, you asked for coverage of the entire County. I warned you... we're not qualified. But we'll give it a shot. (It hasn't stopped me yet.)

So you tell us: what's going on north of I-85? Is Hillsborough still quaint? How many Wal*Marts are there now?

Issues: 

Total votes: 134

Comments

Oh, for pity's sake. They should suck it up, and put in some trailers. Those kids have been waiting YEARS. Well, probably not the current kids. I mean--the poor things only have a 4 year window...

SHAME ON THOSE ADULTS. And three cheers for Mr Lowen.

Bummer about the Walmart zoning. I wonder why the Courts haven't gotten involved? This seems like a "denial of education suit" waiting to happen...

Melanie

Here's an idea--why couldn't they get Walmart (or whoever owns that building) to allow the town to use the OLD Walmart for the alternative school? CHCCS's "alternative school" is at Lincoln center. Did the Town Board members Really say that the alternative school kids would "destroy" the Historic distirct? Yeesh. Lincoln center is still in one piece! What are they afraid the kids are going to do, burn the place down? Most alternative schools supervise the children VERY closely.

oy

Melanie

News of Orange County, December 17th:

"Amid outcry from local preservationists, town commissioners Mike Gering and Eric Hallman had hoped both groups would use the meeting to collectively contemplate ideas for locating the program elsewhere. Youths "prone to mischief," Gering said last week, could impede the town's ability to bait tourists - "a serious setback to the ... vision we've worked so hard on," he said. Added Hallman: "What are the liability concerns if there is damage to the historic district? This is a pretty susceptible area that you're putting this school in.

Claiming the Town Board has "bigger fish to fry," newly elected Commissioner Brian Lowen called the current debate a "classic case of 'Not In My Backyard'" and an issue with which the town shouldn't be involved at all. He expressed dismay that the predicament seemed at first about aesthetics and has since become about the perceived character of the students.

"I appreciate the historic district, but I don't think it's more important than any other part of town," Lowen said after Monday's meeting. "That's an elitist attitude and I just can't support that."

Lowen is the lone Town Board member with children.

- - - -

Melanie,

Great idea about the Wal-Mart. However, the old Wal-Mart building is not in a proper zoning district for a school so that presents a challenge. In addition, the building may be a little too big and too expensive. Orange County Schools actually found a site they were interested in as a permanent location in the Meadowlands business park, however, the pricetag was more than what they could immediately afford. The currently proposed site behind the Board of Education building is intended only as a *temporary* site until they can find an affordable permanent home. Temporary, in this case, means two years according to the Orange County Schools Superintendent.

pdn

Matt,

Yes, the new Wal-Mart is a Super Wal-Mart. Yes, the old Wal-Mart building is presently empty. However, from a fiscal standpoint, even an empty building must pay property taxes. In addition, the new Super Wal-Mart should be bringing in more sales tax dollars (one would hope) and most certainly its property taxes are higher. Again, from a fiscal standpoint, the only negative is that the best positive potential (a sales tax, revenue generating business in the old Wal-Mart building) is not being realized which, overall, does not necessarily equal a financial loss for anyone (other than Wal-Mart who still owns the lease on the old building). I am optimistic that the old Wal-Mart building will not be empty for very long.

The proposed temporary site for the Alternative School (behind the Board of Education Building on Cameron Street) is not within the boundaries of the Historic District. It is just on the other side of the HD border. The Town (per say) isn't against the location of the temporary buildings as much as the two Town Commissioners and one adjoining land owner. (I mentioned their concerns above.) Orange County Schools are required by law to provide an Alternative School yet have been unable to do so for years now.

pdn

Don't forget that a large part of rural Orange County lies to the west of the Chapel Hill/Carrboro urban node.

Mark

Bingham Township

The Lost Quarter of Orange County

While technically, there is only one Wal-Mart, it has been upgraded to a SUPER Wal-Mart, and the original building stands empty, just after you take the I-85 exit for Hillsborough.

The alternative school has been a mess ever since it was proposed. Parents did not want the program to be located at one of the High Schools, and now the Town doesn't want it to be located in the boundaries of the Historical District.

And don't forget that there is Orange County still north of Hillsborough.

Matt Compton

Cedar Grove Township

The Forgotten Fifth of Orange County

Ruby,

Hillsborough is still quaint and there is still only one Wal-Mart.

The issues of the day:

- Two Hillsborough Town Board Members do not want a temporary Orange County Alternative School to be placed behind the Orange County Board of Education Building just outside the boundary of the Historic District. The temporary school, which would consist of two temporary buildings (trailors), would be in place for two years while the school system finds a permanent home. The two Hillsborough Town Board members against the temporary school maintain that the children housed in an alternative school would destroy the Town's Historic District and that the trailors themselves would irrevocably harm the character of the Historic District.

- The Town of Hillsborough is being sued by one of the former applicants of one of the formerly proposed retirement communities (Corbinton Commons). The Town of Hillsborough spent almost two years reviewing this project only to wind up turning it down because the developer did not have any experience building a retirement community. The vote, which wound up being 3-2 in favor of the project, had to be a super majority since there was a valid protest petition from the surrounding neighbors. The developer claims there was no valid protest petetion and that his project should have been approved.

On going issues in Hillsborough:

- The Town continues to struggle to find income. With its commercial base dwindling and most notable anti-growth attitude of the previous Town Board (I say "previous" because two of the Town Board members changed last month so we don't know how the new board will be ... yet) the Town of Hillsborough is left with its citizens as its primary source of income. The Town has not approved any substantial growth since Hampton Pointe (over two years ago) so I predict the stage is set for some substantial tax increases as Town expenses rise. Based on the pro-economic development stance of the two new Town Board Members, perhaps this will change.

- Hillsborough water rates continue to be some of the highest in the state. Cost overruns on its newly built reservoir and improper land condemnation process resulted in an extra 19 million dollars in debt. The burden of paying the debt has been passed on to the users of the Hillsborough water system since the money exists nowhere else and since Hillsborough does not have enough customers to keep the rates low.

This should be enough to get something going for now ...

pdn

Jesse,

Then you will be thrilled to learn that:

- The old Wal-Mart (on Mayo Street) is being divided out into pieces. The first piece sold will go to "Dollar Tree"

- The old Burger King is being bulldozed and will be replaced with a brand new Autozone.

- The old Lowe's Food store on Highway 70 is closing and will be torn down. In its place, an all-new Kerr Drug Store will be constructed complete with a small coffee shop.

- In the old Flynt Fabrics building in West Hillsborough, "A Southern Season" will be expanding their warehouse and want to restore the historic Bellevue Mill into residential units.

So for all the whining and moaning (not you specifically Jesse) about how there is too much urban sprawl in Hillsborough, about all of the vacant buildings around town, and that growth in Hillsborough is unplanned and out of control (ala Independent Weekly), there certainly seems to be a lot of re-birth and re-use of old buildings.

While I am not too terribly thrilled about another dollar store, the reality is that it will fill a need. In general, I see all of these changes as positives for Hillsborough.

pdn

In-line with the Walmart notes; Coming soon to Hillsborough... a Home Depot to be located in the same shopping center as the Super Walmart. While I can appreciate the impact to the tax base, one of the things I live about this area is (was) it's lack of cookie-cutter shopping centers with all the typical stores. I was estatic to see a local movie rental place open next to the new Food Lion.

"North of 70" OC Resident

 

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