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Proposed Site for Southwest Branch Library in Carrboro
Frequently Asked Questions [Disclaimer]

On October 20, 2010 the Orange County Board of County Commissioners optioned a 2.67 parcel of land at 210 Hillsborough Road in downtown Carrboro. It is the intent of the Board of County Commissioners to develop this property as the site for the Southwest Branch Library and move forward with the long-awaited goal of a freestanding full-service library to serve the citizens of Carrboro and Southwest Orange County. On March 22, 2011, beginning at 7pm in the Carrboro Town Hall there will be a public hearing on the re-zoning application filed by the County. All interested residents are encouraged to attend this meeting with representatives from Orange County to learn more about the project. Please see below for additional information about the project.

  1. Why did the Board of County Commissioners choose the 210 Hillsborough Road property as the potential site for the new library?
  2. Did the County explore other alternative sites?
  3. What process did Orange County adopt for identifying the site for the proposed library?
  4. Why does this property need to be re-zoned?
  5. If the property is re-zoned, could the county or any subsequent purchaser of the property build another type of facility or expand the school?
  6. What is happening on March 22, 2011?
  7. What happens if the Board of Aldermen approves the re-zoning application?
  8. What could happen to my real estate values if a library is built?
  9. How does the County propose to regulate traffic on Hillsborough Road after the construction of the library?
  10. What are the anticipated library operating hours and what are the potential services offered by the library?
  11. How will the construction of the library at the 210 Hillsborough Road location impact the operation of the Cybrary and the library at Carrboro McDougle?
  12. Who can I contact for more information about the Southwest Branch Library project?

1. Why did the Board of County Commissioners choose the 210 Hillsborough Road property as the potential site for the new library?

In response to requests by the residents of Carrboro, the Board of County Commissioners created a Library Services Task Force to explore the need for a freestanding library to serve Carrboro and Southwest Orange County residents. The Library Services Task Force Reports of 2000, 2004 and 2007 all indicated the need for a freestanding, full-service library of at least 20,000 square feet and adequate parking to serve the Southwest quadrant of our County. The reports also recommended that the library be located near or in downtown Carrboro, within walkable distance for the residents of the area and, be accessible by public transportation. The property located at 210 Hillsborough Road is the largest parcel available in downtown Carrboro and suitable for a 20,000 square foot facility with adequate parking. It is located within walking distance of downtown businesses and residential communities and served by a bus line. In short, the property meets many of the criteria endorsed by the Library Services Task Force reports and the Board of County Commissioners. .

2. Did the County explore other alternative sites?

In June 2010, at the end of the budget work sessions, the Orange County Board of Commissioners directed the County Manager and staff to begin actively searching for property or a facility that could serve as a site for a Southwest Branch Library. During the summer, County Management worked to identify possible options for a branch library. During this process the group examined property on Hillsborough Road, leasing a storefront facility, the Skills Development Center on Franklin Street, property off of Greensboro Street (behind the Southern States), expanding within the Century Center, and the Carrboro Town Hall. The property on Hillsborough Road was deemed the most suitable by the County Manager and the Commissioners. This property is the only property that is being considered for the library.

3. What process did Orange County adopt for identifying the site for the proposed library?

The process for identifying the site for the proposed library was started over 20 years ago and involved the tireless efforts of several Orange County residents and dedicated Orange County officials. Three Library Services Task Forces were created over the years to provide input and vision for library services to Southwest Orange County. The Library Services Task Forces investigated the feasibility and support for a library in Carrboro. The Reports drafted by the Library Services Task Forces supported the development of a freestanding library in Southwest Orange County. Specific criteria for a Southwest Branch Library were cited and included adequate parking, 20,000 square feet of operational space, walkability and proximity to public transportation. During the summer of 2010 the property at 210 Hillsborough Road became available for sale, meeting many of the criteria desired by the Board of County Commissioners The County Management and the Orange County Board of Commissioners decided to option the property contingent on the approval of a conditional rezoning by the Town of Carrboro.

4. Why does this property need to be re-zoned?

The property is currently zoned residential, specifically “R10”, which allows for the development of a library as a permitted use of property with a maximum allowable floor area of 3,500 square feet.

In order to provide the full-service library called for by all three Library Services Task Forces, the County has determined that a 20,000 square foot facility would be necessary.

The existing zoning designation would not allow for a library of sufficient size to address the anticipated needs of the community as articulated within the various Library Service Task Force Reports. In order to provide a larger full-service library to the citizens of Carrboro, consistent with Task Force recommendations Orange County has petitioned to have the property re-zoned to “B2 CZ” designation.

In reviewing the Town of Carrboro’s Ordinance, there are two (2) processes that are available to the County supporting the development of the aforementioned library, specifically:

  • Conditional Zoning: Requiring the submittal of a rezoning petition seeking to re-zone property to a conditional zoning designation for the development of a specific use, in this case a library with a maximum floor area of 20,000 square feet, AND
  • Conditional Use Zoning: Requiring the submittal of a rezoning petition as well as a site specific development plan requesting authorization to develop a specific use, in this case a library with a maximum floor area of 20,000 square feet, on the subject parcel. This process requires the review and approval of a rezoning petition, rezoning the property to a requested designation, as well as the review and approval of formal site plan with the issuance of a Conditional Use Permit issued by the Board of Aldermen authorizing the commencement of land disturbing activity.


The Conditional Zoning process was chosen because this process would provide the County with an immediate decision, with respect to the possible development of the parcel as a library, so we could move forward with the development of the formal site plan necessary to secure the required Conditional Use Permit authorizing land disturbing activity.

5. If the property is re-zoned, could the county or any subsequent purchaser of the property build another type of facility or expand the school?

One of the conditions presented by Orange County in the Zoning Application is that this property will only be used to build a library. It cannot be used for building any other type of County facility or be sold to a private party or other municipal buyer to develop any other use besides a library.

6. What is happening on March 22, 2011?

At the February 15, 2011 meeting, of the Town of Carrboro Board of Alderman considered the petition submitted by Orange County for the Map rezoning of the 210 Hillsborough Road property. Orange County in its Zoning Application requested that the property be re–zoned from “R10” to “B2 CZ”. The Board of Alderman adopted a resolution and scheduled the public hearing on the petition for March 22, 2011. It is anticipated that on March 22nd, the Board of Alderman will discuss the details of the re–zoning application submitted by Orange County.

7. What happens if the Board of Aldermen approves the re-zoning application?

If the re-zoning application were approved, Orange County would begin the process of planning and designing a Southwest Branch Library. This process will include design charrettes with public input and guidance of the Town of Carrboro Advisory Boards.

8. What could happen to my real estate values if a library is built?

By Erica Christoffer, Contributing Editor, REALTOR® Magazine, August 2009:

A recent study released by CEOs for Cities shows homes located in walking-friendly neighborhoods–with nearby amenities such as parks, schools, libraries, restaurants, and coffee shops¬–sell at higher prices than homes in less walkable neighborhoods.

The data, provided by ZipRealty, was compiled from 94,000 real estate transactions in 15 U.S. markets. The report scored a neighborhood’s walkability by measuring the distance and variety of typical household services, products, and activities. “Walk Scores” from 0-100 were assigned to each area.

“Walking the Walk: How Walkability Raises Housing Values in U.S. Cities,” released Aug. 18, found that in 13 of the 15 markets analyzed, higher levels of walkability directly correlate with higher home values. For every one-point increase in a community’s Walk Score, the home values increased $700 to $3,000.

City Median Sales Price Median Walk Score
Arlington, Va. $393,136 71
Austin $249,706 62
Bakersfield, Calif. $224,233 3
Charlotte, N.C. $279,727 54
Chicago $386,785 86
Dallas $231,236 46
Fresno, Calif. $217,805 49
Jacksonville, Fla. $179,873 35
Las Vegas $313,903 43
Phoenix $311,480 46
Sacramento $284,076 49
San Francisco $728,101 57
Seattle $487,404 68
Stockton, Calif. $248,513 38
Tucson $190,194 51

Straying from the trend, Las Vegas’ walkability correlated with lower home prices. And no statistical connection could be made between Bakersfield, Calif.’s walkability and housing values.

“Walkability is a factor we’ve always considered important for buyers and sellers when bidding or pricing a home. We appreciate that ‘Walk the Walk’ has confirmed this intrinsic value,” says Patrick Lashinsky, CEO for ZipRealty.

CEOs for Cities is a network of civic, business, academic, and philanthropic urban leaders working to build and sustain American cities. For more information on the Walk the Walk study, visit http://www.ceosforcities.org.

9. How does the County propose to regulate traffic on Hillsborough Road after the construction of the library?

If the property is re-zoned, the County will work closely with staff of the Town of Carrboro and the North Carolina Department of Transportation to complete a comprehensive traffic study to determine the best route for directing the vehicular and pedestrian traffic to the proposed library site. It should be noted that traffic at a library is not the same as at a regular commercial establishment. Since the library will be open for 7 days per week and our patrons use various means to visit the library, usually staying for 1 to 2 hours, County Management anticipate that vehicular traffic will be staggered throughout the library working hours.

10. What are the anticipated library operating hours and what are the potential services offered by the library?

A new branch in Carrboro would mirror the Main Library in hours and services.
The Orange County Main Library (23,500 square feet), is located in downtown Hillsborough within the historic residential district, is open 7 days per week for 60 hours per week.

Its hours of operation are:

  • Monday – Thursday 10 – 8pm;
  • Friday 10 – 6pm;
  • Saturday 9 – 5pm and
  • Sundays 1 – 5 (Labor Day through Memorial Day)

The new Library would offer many of these same services that we are not currently able to offer at either the Cybrary or at Carrboro McDougle. These services would include materials to support school assignments, toddler story–times, Teen activities, Adult book clubs, additional public internets and wireless internet access, a large community meeting space and smaller tutoring or group study rooms. In addition, the library would provide a greater number of materials for check out such as books, books on CD, DVDs, & magazines.

11. How will the construction of the library at the 210 Hillsborough Road location impact the operation of the Cybrary and the library at Carrboro McDougle?

Both locations will close and the staff, furnishings and materials will be absorbed into the new Southwest Branch Library.

12. Who can I contact for more information about the Southwest Branch Library project?


For more information about the project contact:

Gwendolyn Harvey, ICMA-CM
Assistant County Manager
Orange County Government
200 South Cameron Street
P.O. Box 8181
Hillsborough, NC 27278
Tel: (919) 245-2307
Email Gwendolyn Harvey