Construction on the 1,038-unit Collins Ridge project could start this spring if the Hillsborough Town Board approves a Phase I permit after a public hearing next month.
The board received an update on the project Monday night and set a joint public hearing with the Planning Board for 7 p.m. Jan. 19 in the Whitted Building, 300 W. Tryon St.
Collins Ridge is a very big project for Hillsborough, which has 6,381 residents, according to U.S. Census estimates.
The board approved Caruso Homes’ master plan by a 3-2 vote in March. The project has been slightly scaled back from 1,150 dwelling units on 125 acres to 1,038 units with 950 homes, town houses and apartments and 88 affordable rentals.
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“If we obtain our special use permit in March, we will start construction in late to early spring or midsummer,” said Randy L Sexton, Caruso Homes’ land acquisition director.
Phase I, which originally had 450 dwelling units, now has 674 units.
“Because Phase I is now a lot bigger than originally planned, they will need a second access point at some point during the process,” Town Planner Margaret Hauth said.
The first access point will be Orange Grove Street off South Churton Street. The second is expected to be James L. Freeland Memorial Drive at Daniel Boone Village, also off South Churton Street.
An N.C. Department of Transportation study calls for twin lanes, widening sections of South Churton Street and adjusting signal timing in the lights at the appropriate sites.
“With new businesses or development, people will sometimes see a noticeable change in traffic,” Hauth said. “Sometimes there is enough of a change for the DOT to say we need improvements to accommodate for congestion.”
The DOT has an already funded and approved Churton Street Project that will expand Churton to a four-lane divided section from the Railroad Bridge to I-40 earmarked to begin construction in 2023.
Caruso Homes plans to buy and redevelop Daniel Boone Village, a 59.4 acre property between the Collins Ridge site and South Churton Street that has housed antique stores and other shops for over 30 years.
The Daniel Boone contract with Caruso Homes has a closing date of no later than April, 2018.
“But it could be much sooner than that,” Sexton said. “We plan to directly connect the two projects, with James L. Freeland Memorial Drive being the main entrance into Collins Ridge.”
The two will be married together similar to the shops and homes of Southern Village in Chapel Hill.
“We anticipate that the majority of the shopping center will be redeveloped and include a new grocery store,” said Sexton.
Mayor Tom Stevens says there is a lot of interest in the project.
“We are holding the public hearing at the Whitted Building because we are expecting a crowd,” he said. “Everyone is concerned and when you start talking about Daniel Boone Village it starts conversations about the already existing businesses in that area.
“We certainly want to take care of those businesses and there is a lot of support behind them. We encourage people to keep shopping there over the holidays and to know that it could be months or years before you see any new construction.”
Despite the support, frustration and anxiety has still hit the Daniel Boone Village shop owners.
Some have customers who think they have already closed. Some are placing ads saying they are still there, and some are looking for new locations.
“If it goes through, I have heard that they are going to put in more contemporary businesses,” said Antique Mall owner Dennis Voucher. “I have been here for over 30 years and have not found any suitable alternatives in Hillsborough.
“If I were to have to move my business, I don’t know where I would go. There are five or six antique shops here, and I am really hoping that it does not happen.”
Boucher said that the shop owners were told they would have more definite answers in February.
After the public hearing, the Planning board will meet and send the Town Board its recommendations, Stevens said. The board will likely vote on the permit in March, he said.
In other business
▪ The board endorsed a policy that would provide up to six weeks of paid parental leave for town employees for care of a newborn or a child placed for adoption, foster care or guardianship within 12 months of the event. Employees would have to qualify under the federal Family Medical Leave Act.
▪ Hillsborough Cemetery Committee Chairman Ken Ostrand updated the board on the committee’s efforts during the past year including restoration work at the Margaret Lane, Old Town and Town cemeteries with help from over 200 volunteers, archival research to identify previously unknown names, working with the town Public Information Office to create new brochures for the Old Town Cemetery, working with the Alliance for Historic Hillsborough to organize after-dark cemetery tours; and conducting a ground-penetrating radar survey of portions of the Old Town Cemetery.
The committee also was recognized earlier in the year with a Hillsborough Historic District Commission Preservation Award for Volunteerism for organizing cleanup days at the Old Town Cemetery.