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Hillsborough group fights proposed development, cites health and environmental concerns


A sign at the proposed site for Research Triangle Logistics Park (RTLP) on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020 advocates against the construction of the RTLP buildings on the 161-acre lot in Hillsborough, N.C.

Hillsborough residents are raising concerns over the Research Triangle Logistics Park, a proposed development near the intersection of Old N.C. Highway 86 and Davis Road, because of its potential impacts on the environment and community well-being. 

The park, proposed by Kentucky-based Barrister Commercial Group, would sit on about 160 acres, and would consist of over 2 million square feet of warehouse fulfillment, industrial research and other service space. The developers said the park would meet the needs of economic development in the community in an Aug. 5 Orange County Planning Board meeting. 

Hillsborough residents raised concerns over the park since the Board of County Commissioners first reviewed the project proposal on Aug. 5. Residents have cited concerns over traffic and community safety, and also say they fear it would ruin the character of their community, which is largely a rural residential area. 

Sarah Shore, who lives along Old N.C. Highway 86, said her property and livelihood would both be impacted by the development.

“It would be 250 feet from my back porch to this six-story warehouse,” Shore said. “And it would directly impact the safety of my children. I wouldn’t be comfortable having them play outside when semi-trucks are constantly going in and out of the park.” 

There is also concern over environmental impacts. 

Jessica Sheffield, executive director of the Eno River Association, said in an email that the development would threaten the well-being of species that currently live on the proposed site, including in Cates Creek, which sits on the property and flows into the Eno River. 

“With that as our charge, it is our responsibility to say that, based on what we know thus far about the proposed Research Triangle Logistics Park, we are concerned,” Sheffield said in the email. “Substantial, detrimental environmental and health impacts are likely to stem from this project if it proceeds as planned.”

Jon Lorusso, a Hillsborough resident, said he’s concerned about the health impacts that diesel pollution from the semi-trucks could have on the community. 

“There are already asthma issues throughout the Hillsborough area just from living in close proximity to I-40 and I-85,” he said. “So they’re going to burden an already burdened community.” 

Lorusso and Shore are both a part of Save Hillsborough, a group working to stop the development. Several of the group’s members attended the Sept. 1 Board of County Commisioner's meeting to voice their concerns. 

The research park proposal is still in the review process. The next step for the Board of County Commissioners will be to hear a presentation about the development on Sept. 15, which will be followed by a public hearing. 

Members of Save Hillsborough are emailing the BOCC with their feedback ahead of the Sept. 15 public hearing. 

Commissioner Mark Marcoplos said he wants the community to know that the Board has yet to receive enough information about the project to definitively comment, but he will be looking critically at the parts of the project that raise community concerns. 

“We are in the process of listening and learning right now,” Marcoplos said. “And I fully expect there to be a reasonable resolution to this.”

Save Hillsborough is planning to protest the development on Sept. 12 in downtown Hillsborough.

“We are not against development at all, but this is not the right development,” Shore said. “We would love for something to come in that enhances our community, and we would love for the county commissioners to reach out to us and engage with us.”


@DTHCityState | 

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