"Strategic growth" in the county

I know sometimes things that sound the same mean different things in different parts of Orange County. Could this "strategic growth plan" be an effort to slow and manage growth, which by most accounts has been pretty out of control in and around Hillsborough? It certainly has potential to be a good thing. Maybe some of you north of I-40 readers could help out.

The [Hillsborough Town] Board authorized Town Manager Eric Peterson to negotiate a contract with Chapel Hill-based Clarion Associates to develop a strategic growth plan. The town and Orange County are jointly creating the plan. The town will be recruiting town residents to serve on the steering committee, which will start meeting Jan. 22.
- newsobserver.com | Orange County, 12/15/05

...And former Chapel Hill Planning Director Roger Waldon continues to do well in his second career as a consultant with Clarion.


These Hillsborough threads seem to flop. Do you suppose the good people of Hillsborough are relieved that we don't know enough about them to give advice?

I did look up the new mayor: www.tomstevens.com ... I think it may be fascinating to see how it all translates to managing town growth and culture clash. How will the Mayor balance the needs of the working class citizens of Hillsborough with the needs of Hillsborough's empowered class?

From what I can gather about the public hearing last night, the mayor will get an early litmus test: will Stevens support a new, environmentally-friendly business that wants to locate in Hillsborough but can't afford to build the required sidewalks, or will he champion sidewalks and walkability at the expense of this new business? (Someone, please correct me if I am mischaracterizing the dilemma.)

Hillsborough can just adopt the Chapel Hill-Carrboro strategic growth plan...move the affordable housing and commercial development to Durham and North Chatham.


You are referring to a meeting held by the Hillsborough Board of Adjustment last night (December 14th) to conduct a site plan review for Chris Wachholz to build a green building center at 1508 Orange Grove Road in Hillsborough.

The Board of Adjustment is a quasi-judicial board. I am a member of that board. When items come before us, we hold a public hearing session and then conduct our business in a separate session. Unlike other volunteer boards such as the Planning Board or Parks and Recreation Board, the Board of Adjustment must make findings of facts based on the letter of the ordinance.

The Town of Hillsborough has spent years reviewing and revising its sidewalk ordinances. When I first joined the Planning Board in 2002, Hillsborough had very loose sidewalk requirements. Since then, we have modified our ordinances to require any new development to build sidewalks along both sides of interior streets and along frontage streets that align their particular property. These changes to the ordinance have been unanimously agreed upon by the Hillsborough Town Board, Planning Board, and Parks and Recreation Board.

In recent months, developers have asked to make payments (or exchanges) in lieu of sidewalks. Mr. Wachholz offered to build a greenway path throughout his property in lieu of building sidewalks along the frontage of Orange Grove Road. His reasoning for making the offer seemed to be mostly financial in nature.

In recent months, both the Parks and Recreation Board and Planning Board have unanimously agreed that in general, they would much rather have a developer provide a sidewalk rather than any form of “in lieu of” agreement. It is also my understanding that Hillsborough's ordinances, in their current state, do not have accommodations for “in lieu of” agreements with sidewalks.

Hillsborough's zoning ordinance requires any new developments to build sidewalks along the frontage of their property that abuts a public road. As a Board of Adjustment member, that is what I have to go by regardless of any personal feelings towards the applicant or his site plan. As I told Mr. Wachholz last night, I think his project is worth while. However, the rules are the rules and the ordinances are the ordinances. We do not have the luxury of picking and choosing which projects we would like to apply the ordinances.

The ordinances regarding sidewalks apply to all new developments that come to Hillsborough, regardless. Those rules were in place when Mr. Wachholz completed and submitted his application. Now if someone would like to change the rules, then that would be another discussion. However that matter would not be under the purview of the Hillsborough Board of Adjustment.

Regarding our new Mayor, Tom Stevens, he has no vote in this matter. Naturally, if he has any pertinent information he is welcome to submit it at our next public hearing in January. Otherwise, I see no dilemma where Mayor Stevens is concerned.


Thank you for your explanation.

growth, which by most accounts has been pretty out of control in and around Hillsborough

Growth in Hillsborough may be without much direction, but it certainly isn't exploding in any way. If you want to see explosive growth, step 1 foot over the line into Alamance County.


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