Family flap after land quietly sold for new Orange County jail

HILLSBOROUGH, NC (WTVD) -- As Billy Holloway looked out at his land, he couldn't help but think about how different it would look in only a couple of years.

"It bothers me thinking about it," said the Hillsborough resident. "I've been here all my life. It's just hard to see it turn into a commercial building."

The proposed site for the jail sits not far from where West Hill Ave North meets US-70 just outside Town of Hillsborough limits.

"It will be a low-level-type facility and something that will not be as intrusive as the neighbors think it will be," said Todd McGee, who serves as Orange County's community relations director. "We're trying to maybe see if we can adjust the boundaries to give (the Holloways) a little more room."

In a Tuesday meeting, Orange County Commissioners approved the sale of the property for nearly $400,000.

The jail, agricultural center, and park operations building will go in much of that open field between the Driver's License Office and Calvary Baptist Church.

The news of the impending sale came as a shock to Holloway and other family members.

His grandfather owned the land and divided it among the family, with Holloway's two aunts receiving a portion.

"The biggest thing that bothered me the most is (my two aunts) owned that land and they didn't offer it to none of us. We didn't know the land was for sale until I seen people surveying it," Holloway said. "They could've at least had the decency to see or ask us if we were interested in it. But they just bypassed us all together."

Holloway told ABC11 that had his aunts asked for input or offered the sale, he would have declined and encouraged his aunts to keep the land in the family as farmland.

"When I get up in the morning, I look out, I see a green field. I said, 'when y'all get through, I'm gonna wake up and look at the back of a building."

Orange County representatives have agreed the County needs a new detention facility as the existing one in downtown Hillsborough is quickly becoming outdated and unsatisfactory by modern jail standards.

The new facility will be a 144-bed jail and according to Sheriff Charles Blackwood, will allow for convenient transport between the jail and the courthouse which sits almost 2.5 miles away.

McGee said the County plans to phase out the old jail once the new one is completed. As of now, the County is considering several options for the jail, which could serve as a new home for future county offices. McGee said construction should begin in early 2019 with a completed facility in 2021.
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