Readers reacted strongly to Sunday’s story about businesses leaving Orange County and taking commercial tax revenue with them.
“I have seen all this happen for years,” said Durham native Aaron Thompson, who lives in Hillsborough and works at the Durham Performing Arts Center. “We are looking to move back to Durham because for a resident Orange County does not have anything here that’s worth paying the taxes that we have to pay.”
Other readers agreed the loss of commercial tax base has been an ongoing problem.
“I have lived here for 25 years and it has not changed!” one wrote in an e-mail.
“It is a shame but neither city nor county government is currently doing anything to help,” wrote another. “They do a lot of talking but never make any progress.”
In truth, the county has been working to install water, sewer and roads along Interstate 85 to attract industry. And the town has approved millions of square feet of mixed-use development downtown and along Highway 54 east of UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus. But homeowners have yet to see the results in terms of lower property taxes.
One reader asked whether Orange County has the right zoning in place to attract major companies.
“Where would Quintiles ‘fit’ in Chapel Hill today?” he asked. “The answer is ‘nowhere in Orange County,’ given the current zoning.”
On the other hand, the Town Council tends to rezone properties for developments they think will help the town. But, then again, they’ve never approved 10 stories for offices – only for condos with ground floor retail downtown.
Zoning would not stop a project if it’s what local leaders decided they wanted, but the arduous process of getting approval discourages some businesses from looking at Chapel Hill.