Forum Open Thread: Hillsborough Town Board

Welcome to the open thread for the Hillsborough Town Board candidate forum happening on September 27, 2015. Comments on this post will open at that time.

There are five candidates running for three seats:

  • Mark Bell
  • Ashley DeSena
  • Evelyn Lloyd
  • Brian Lowen
  • Cindy Talisman

You can observe the forum at http://orangepolitics.org/elections-2015/forums/hsbotb.

We hope you'll use this open thread to post your thoughts and reactions. Also, if you want to propose additional discussion topics, you can reach the editors during the forum via TwitterFacebook, or the contact page. The forum moderator will have final say in question selection.

Issues: 

Total votes: 166

Comments

Like infrastructure, Hillsborough needs to address its affordable housing needs locally. Funding for affordable housing may change at the state and federal levels, while the need here is consistent. With few exceptions, municipal governments in North Carolina cannot require developers to include affordable housing, but we can address the need by building a solid civic infrastructure; in other words, by public, private, and nonprofit entities effectively communicating need and cooperating to solve the problem. And, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I will encourage a higher percentage of funding toward rental programs.

But we cannot solve the problem by only working within town boundaries. There are Orange County policies that serve as barriers to affordability. The county's recent Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice identified the scarcity of available developable land and zoning as issues that make living here harder for those with low incomes. Therefore, I encourage the BOCC to review its land use policies. The 2030 Comprehensive Plan's development philosophy is informed by the 29-year-old Joint Planning Agreement with Chapel Hill and Carrboro. In particular, the BOCC needs to revisit the rural buffer, which prevents even a moderate amount density in rural areas. Obviously, this reduces the availability of land and makes it more valuable as a result. I also strongly encourage the BOCC to allow more land use freedom in general. By allowing more land use freedom, the cost of living will stabilize or perhaps decrease and the quality of life will improve. 

The County's high property taxes present a challenge to residents as well as businesses (i.e., employers). Commercial development provides a $4.21 return on every dollar spent on services for them in Orange County, while residential development only yields around $.90 for every $1 spent in services. We lose commercial development to our neighbors that have lower property tax rates. By adopting policies that allow more commercial development, the county would find itself better able to provide necessary services without additional debt.

 

 

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