Despite concerns among Hillsborough residents, a development called the Research Triangle Logistics Park will be coming to the Orange County area.
The development, located south of Interstate 40 and west of Old N.C. 86, would be 161 acres and encompass over 2 million square feet of warehouse space intended for a distribution center. It was approved by the Orange County Board of Commissioners at a meeting last week.
Penny Rich, chairperson of the BOCC, said the developers of the area believe the project will create around 1,000 jobs. She also said the developers offered to chip in $8 million to pay for water and sewer pipes under I-40 to help water get to RTLP.
Rich said the approval came after two public hearings from residents, and that negotiations for the project were hard, considering the strong opposition from the community.
At a Sept. 15 meeting, over 80 residents signed up to speak about the RTLP development, the majority of whom opposed the project.
While Rich feels for the residents of Hillsborough, she said the property has been designated as an economic development district for 40 years.
“Because it hadn't been developed for 40 years, they were assuming that it was never going to be developed,” she said. “Some of them bought homes without thinking that they would be near an industrial park or next to an economic development district.”
Residents like Jon Lorusso say the development doesn’t serve the community and will do more harm than good. Lorusso is a member of Save Hillsborough, a group that believes the RTLP development does not meet standards of promoting health, safety and harmony in the Orange County community.
One of Lorusso’s main concerns is the park’s impact on the environment. He said it should become LEED certified, a type of green building certification related to energy and the environment, especially because of the development’s potential noise pollution and consumption of fossil fuels.
“It’s a huge detriment to the people who live here pollution wise, noise wise, safety wise and traffic wise,” Lorusso said. “There’s really no beneficial aspect to it for the community at large.”
Some other points of discussion during the Oct. 20 meeting included limited access to Davis Road, which would only allow ambulances, other emergency vehicles and public utility vehicles to exit the site.
The board also discussed the environmental impact of the development.
Commissioner Renee Price said at the meeting she was concerned about the impact of the development on wildlife. She said the board was informed about endangered species in a letter by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, but was told the project wouldn’t have any environmental impact. She was in favor of buffers to combat this problem.
“My point was about the buffers and what buffers do," Price said. "They do protect wildlife and that was part of the concern."
Rich said the majority of the buffer was approved to be 100 feet, and parking on the development was reduced from 35 to 20 spots.
The development was approved by the commissioners a 6-1 vote. Price was the only commissioner to vote against the development.
Lorusso said Save Hillsborough, which has protested and created a petition against the park’s development in the past, will likely get involved in a court battle.
“We have to really have to build things, not just for today and tomorrow but for the next 10, 20, 30 years, if not more,” he said. “It seems like they just really pass the buck to some to their children and grandchildren, and it's very sad.”
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