Where's Hillsborough?

For the readers who are not at the Sierra Club's Hillsborough Candidate Forum right now (and that's all of you except for one) I am reporting live from the Battle Courtroom.

I was very disappointed (and a little shocked) to learn that only one candidate in each of the races - Mayor and Town Board - is attending the forum. But it's more understandable when you realize that this is the very first time the Sierra Club has done a Hillsborough forum. Plus this is just not the same political environment as Chapel Hill and Carrboro, where environmentalism is the norm.

Kudos to Town Board incumbent Mike Gehring (in old-timey politician bow tie) and Mayoral challenger Tom Stevens (in 80's modern t-shirt & blazer) just for being here!

I will report more on the forum if anything notable happens.



Audience question: What to do with the old WalMart building?

Gehring: "Besides tear it down?" ask local businesses. Senior center, library. There will be a sidewalk there in the future. Open to creative ideas.

Stevens: Limited role of town government. Have a dialogue to develop ideas. Talk to local merchants. How to attract good industries.

Audience question: "How to support transit?"

Stevens: Work w/ regional government. Likes the Village Project's plan for density.

Gehring: It's a regional issue, that H'boro hasn't adressed. Need to work w/ other gov'mts. Supports recent collaboration with TTA to get better coverage. Reactivate a train station in West Hillsborough in the future.

I just heard the word "Chapel Hill" for the first time (in a question about regionalism). Both candidates keep talking about the Triangle J Council of Governments, but neither has mentioned other towns in Orange County.

By the way, whoever told me (and thereby the OP calendar) that this forum started at 7pm owes a round of drinks to me and Mary Rabinowitz. At least we weren't late. ;-)


Live blogging from Hillville!

Thanks for doing god's work . . .


Is there anybody who realistically expects that Hillsborough will do a 180 degree turn and suddenly change their development process? Hillsborough has always been (and I think for at least my lifetime) will just be a typical southern town that lets anybody develop anything they'd like. If you look at Hillsborough now, it's a mess. They have that giant strip of fast food restaurants, and they're about to start construction on their second Wal-Mart from what I understand. They have a tiny "historic" section of town that they give lip service to, and that's about it. And even that "historic" section of town is about 1/10 of a mile away from the strip of fast food joints. I'd be shocked if, in my lifetime, Hillsborough said "no" to *any* kind of development. If anything, Hillsborough is a perfect example (among other identical towns like Garner, Fuquay-Varina, Apex, etc.) of what zero planning looks like.

I love Hillsborough, but I think you make a valid point. When we lived in Mebane, we met our friends out in Hillsborough all the time. I don't know much about their planning or zoning, but I would hate to see their historic section disappear, so I hope they have some plan in place to remedy that.
On the other hand, Hillsborough is in close proximity to two of the major interstate systems in our country. If you look at Chapel Hill, we have just as many strip malls close to the interstate as Hillsborough does. The difference is that our downtown is several miles away, while their downtown is only "1/10" of a mile away.
If you have traveled north of Hillsborough, you probably know that it is very rural, and very beautiful. I would hope that this area of the state is preserved and developed in an environmentally sound and community friendly way.

If you have traveled north of Hillsborough, you probably know that it is very rural, and very beautiful. I would hope that this area of the state is preserved and developed in an environmentally sound and community friendly way.

I agree 100%. I just think that looking at Hillsborough historically, there's very little chance of this happening. That's why I was surprised at Ruby's surprise that only two candidates showed up at the Sierra Club meeting and their answers were less than stellar. Hell, I was personally surprised that ANY Hillsborough canidadates showed up at the Sierra Club meeting.

But I'll say that looking at Hillsborough vs. Chapel Hill, at least in Chapel Hill (and Carrboro) we don't have a strip of fast food and other similar development that rivals that one piece that is so close to Hillsborough "historic" district. And I can only come up with two big box stores within the city limits, and that's Lowe's hardware and Barnes & Noble (which I don't think were good ideas, but that's a moot point now).

Hillsborough (last I checked) has one of those Wal-Mart/Bed Bath & Beyond monstrosities, and is getting ready to build a second one. Chapel Hill and Carrboro have done an *excellent* job by comparison. I think that the only reason that we don't see even more of that in Hillsborough right now is because the big box developers have just recently discovered Hillsborough. I'd be willing to bet a lot of money that Hillsborough will continue in that direction for the forseeable future.

I completely agree. You will notice that within 2 miles of the interstate there is a Wal-Mart, B&N, Border's, Bed, Bath, & Beyond, Dick's Sporting Goods, Michael's, Home Depot, Lowe's, blabh blah blah blah.
Chapel Hill did a good thing keeping all these developments on the other side of I-40. I'm sure we have no environmental impact on our county due to their presence ; )

My point is that Hillsborough is the only game in town where I-40 and I-85 connect. Could they have said no thank you to all those stores? Yep. Would their rural constituents have voted them out of office and then put the big boxes in anyways? Yep.

I've lost track of where I am going - I guess just to say that it is unfair to compare Chapel Hill with the University as a large employer to Hillsborough with Bandito's as its largest employer (not including the strip development). And, again, we have Durham to suck up all the big box developments 200 yards away from our city border.

Where did I say their answers were lacking in any way? And did I not explain why I thought there weren't many candidates?

Frank, your initial comment reads like you are responding to something someone else said or at least very creatively reading into what I wrote. Please check your assumptions. If you had been to Hillsborough lately, you would see that they have already built the second Wal-Mart. But more of the same is certainly not inevitable.

Hillsborough in recent years has probably turned down more developments than Chapel Hill has.

Actually, isn't PHE one of Hillsborough's largest employers? Granted, you're right... they don't really have the employment that we do here. And you're exactly right... if their planning board did (or does in the the future) reject any of that big box stuff, then they will be kicked out of office. That's the thing... just a few miles up the road, Hillsborough is a world away and the people are *quite* different than Chapel Hill/Carrboro residents. It's very easy to forget that Chapel Hill and Carrboro are a world of their own, and just because Hillsborough is adjacent and is in the same county that it is not part of this little bubble that we live in. In fact, I'd say that the name of this website is a misnomer. It's not really about Orange County politics. If so, it would have articles about how to further cut funding to the Orange County animal shelter. If anything, this site is about Chapel Hill/Carrboro politics.


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