Planning Commission Talks Housing Update


Hillsboro’s Planning Commission met for less than an hour (by Zoom) on Tuesday afternoon, April 20, to hear a variety of reports and to pose questions about the welfare of the city.

Mike Ryan asked if a plan existed to deal with deteriorating sidewalks around town, a problem he’s noticed as he walks for exercise. Jonathan Weyer, the only spokesperson for the city in attendance, replied that mayor-elect Don Downs has had a list of trouble spots he’d compiled as a councilman. (Former councilman Bruce Holcomb voiced concerns about sidewalk conditions while he was on the council as well).

Weyer also said sidewalks are a concern listed in the city’s strategic plan, but money available to correct the problem has been scarce. At any rate, the problem is on the list if not at the front of concerns.

Mark Osborne told the committee a friend from Litchfield who had stopped for a sandwich at the Sertoma Club’s booth last Friday later called to tell him how impressed he was about all the activities happening in downtown Hillsboro. His friend wondered what Hillsboro’s secret is, as many small towns don’t have the sidewalk traffic Hillsboro enjoys.

Barb Hewitt began the reports by saying plans are well underway for the Farmers’ Market held the first and third Saturday during warmer weather on the Lincoln Plaza. Downtown Hillsboro, a committee of Imagine Hillsboro, sponsors the events which will begin on May 1. The group also hopes to provide floral decorations of some sort for the plaza.

Don Karban gave two reports: three of the houses under contract with HUD have had repairs and updates completed; five others are under contract to be done by late September. Two problems have arisen, according to Tim Dunham, the agent administering the work for the city. One is a shrinking pool of contractors willing to do government projects, and the other is the sudden rise in the cost of building materials and a delay in the supply chain.

The next round of applications are due in August, and Karban said some changes could be in the offing. Perhaps, if the average income of residents allows the city to qualify, the grants might not have to be in the same general area.

Karban’s second report dealt with the Hillsboro Community Development Corporation. The lot(s) at Oak and Hickory where the hoped-for duplexes are to be built have been staked, and the bidding process is underway, but the cost and unavailabilty of building materials plague that process too.

Weyer had little new to report on his vacant building update. The gift shop on East Wood Street, Rabbit Hole Chaos, should open soon, and Fern Hill Bakery will  be open by the first of the summer, if not sooner.

According to Weyer, city clerk Cory Davidson has been in touch with the EPA concerning the Eagle Zinc property; they are planting trees in the wetlands area before turning it over to the city. The  Corps of Engineers has a trade magazine that has planned a feature on the site and on Hillsboro; that in turn could cast a favorable light on the city in a national publication.

The planning commission’s next meeting is to be on Tuesday, May 18, at 12:30 p.m.


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