Commercial, economic and residential development was discussed by the Orange County Board of Commissioners and the Hillsborough Board of Commissioners at a joint meeting Thursday to grapple with plans of economic development in the face of projected town and county growth.
“We need to be partners with you folks,” Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens said. “We need to work together.”
Stevens encouraged conversation and collaboration between commissioners and staff as different issues that faced the town and county were brought forward.
Commissioner Earl McKee urged the town to focus on commercial development rather than residential development.
“Unless those houses are very expensive houses, it’s not a positive for the county,” McKee said. “I would like to see some component, a significant component, that would be commercial development.”
Stevens said Hillsborough is committed to a balance between commercial and residential development, including trying to bring more businesses to the Waterstone drive area, building the Collins Ridge residential complex, as well as adding hotels for visitors to the town.
“I think one of Hillsborough’s assets, from a tourism perspective, is its people,” said Laurie Paolicelli, community relations director for the Community Relations and Tourism office for Orange County.
Paolicelli said Hillsborough was a welcoming place and tourism in the town and county is growing.
Orange County will be the pilot county for a new application premiering in June that will promote agro-tourism, said Paolicelli. The app will connect tourists with farms where they can stay and pick their own food.
Stevens said the Hillsborough population is expected to double from 6,000 to 12,000 by 2030 and the main constraints to growth would be a limited water supply and problematic traffic patterns.
“We’re still a very small town, so we’re still very dependent on our relationship with others, especially the county government,” Stevens said.
Orange County will roll out a new town slogan next week.
“And I can simply say ‘ditto’ to all that,” McKee said in response to Stevens’ opening remarks.
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