Orange County

Will Orange County approve 195 acres of office, retail and industry near Hillsborough?

Developers with Old NC 86 LLC want to build 195 acres of commercial, manufacturing and retail uses on both side of Old N.C. 86 at the Interstate 40 interchange south of Hillsborough.
Developers with Old NC 86 LLC want to build 195 acres of commercial, manufacturing and retail uses on both side of Old N.C. 86 at the Interstate 40 interchange south of Hillsborough. tgrubb@heraldsun.com

The number of retail shops could be limited if the 195-acre commercial and industrial Settler’s Point project is approved Tuesday night.

The Orange County Board of Commissioners first heard about the project, on Old N.C. 86 south of Interstate 40, in November. The developer, Old NC 86 LLC, is seeking a master plan to build two districts:

▪ District 1: 1.2 million square feet of light industrial, manufacturing and research west of Old N.C. 86

▪ District 2: A commercial area with up to 261,800 square feet of high-intensity office uses, retail, restaurants and services, and a 200-room hotel east of Old N.C. 86

0122-settlerspoint-map

A public hearing for the development will continue Tuesday. If the commissioners approve the master plan, it would limit how the land could be used, identify required road improvements, and establish standards for landscaping, lighting, signs and other details.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Whitted Building, 300 W. Tryon St. in Hillsborough. Also on the commissioners’ agenda:

▪ A possible decision on the final route of the Mountains-to-Sea trail between southwestern Orange County and Hillsborough

▪ Potentially using land designated for the Millhouse Road regional park north of Chapel Hill for a temporary mobile home park

▪ A future site for the county’s new Agricultural Center and a new county detention center on U.S. 70 west of Hillsborough

Development concerns

The Settler’s Point master plan, if approved, would help the developer recruit tenants and then submit individual building design plans based on those tenants’ needs. The development could be annexed into the town in return for water and sewer service, giving Hillsborough town officials the final say over what could be built, even if that contradicts the county-approved master plan.

That could create a potential conflict between the town and developer over how much retail is built. The county Planning Board recommended limiting retail to 30 percent of District 2 space – about 78,540 square feet, or slightly smaller than a typical Kohl’s store.

However, Hillsborough town officials want to see an 8 percent limit – about 20,000 square feet, or a typical Trader Joe’s store – so the project doesn’t siphon customers from the town’s Churton Street and downtown business districts.

The developer has said the retail at Settler’s Point would be focused on serving interstate traffic.

Other potential conditions address neighborhood concerns, including a limit on nighttime lighting and the construction of more traffic lanes, ramps and intersections as the development expands.

The development site is within Orange County’s 637-acre Hillsborough Economic Development District, one of three economic development districts created over 20 years ago to bring businesses and jobs to the county’s highway corridors.

Tammy Grubb: 919-829-8926, @TammyGrubb

What’s next

The Orange County Board of Commissioners meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 23, in the Whitted Building, 300 W. Tryon St. in Hillsborough.

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