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The Daily Tar Heel

Updated detention center finally on the horizon for Hillsborough

Orange County is in the process of developing a new detention center and agricultural facility in Hillsborough. 

The Orange County Board of Commissioners designated 21 acres in the Hillsborough Highway 70/Cornelius Street area for the project. 

Four sites were initially examined as possible options, but the Hillsborough land was determined to be the best location and financial option. The location’s access to Interstate 85 would allow for easier detainee transportation routes. 

Because the land is currently designated as residential, the county has applied for future land-use and zoning amendments.

Without any preexisting structures, the county has free reign for the use of the land. Since the land is right next to adequate sewer and water services, there should not be much extra cost to the original financial plan. 

With the zoning and land-use amendments, the county will have multiple options for potential uses. In addition to the detention center, options for additional land use include recreational areas and multi-use facilities, such as parking or storage.

“The county has currently appropriated funds for the project, which include a new Environment and Agricultural Center, in its capital investment plan," said Todd McGee, Orange County community relations director.

The existing facility was originally built in the 1920s, and it has not been expanded since the 1990s, which is why the current jail requires large improvement costs in order to meet the state’s minimum standards, McGee explained. The lack of land for expansion also limits the county's ability to expand the site. 

“The current jail is in absolutely terrible shape, leading to very poor conditions for the people housed there," said Jenn Weaver, who sits on the Hillsborough Board of Commissioners. 

Residents within a 1,000-foot radius of the designated land will be notified before the Feb. 6 BOCC meeting and regularly updated on the project. A public hearing for the town of Hillsborough will be held Feb. 15.

The planning committee will review the county's application, and the Hillsborough Town Commission will consider the request in early spring. 

“If the BOCC decides to move forward with the project, construction would start after a public bid process,” McGee said. 


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