Hillsboro City Council was right Monday to preserve both the Community Improvement Corporation (technically the Hillsboro Area Economic Development Corporation) and the Design Review Board.
The CIC is an important tool which most forward-looking communities utilize well. As described in state code, a CIC can “borrow money for any of the purposes of the community improvement corporation by means of loans, lines of credit, or any other financial instruments or securities, including the issuance of its bonds, debentures, notes, or other evidences of indebtedness, whether secured or unsecured, and to secure the same by mortgage, pledge, deed of trust, or other lien on its property, franchises, rights, and privileges of every kind and nature or any part thereof or interest therein.” It can serve as a conduit for the acquisition, lease or transfer of property.
In plain English, a CIC is a good tool to further the goals of economic development, and whether it is often or seldom used, it is, when needed, an important item in the economic development tool box.
The Design Review Board is more frequently used and serves a crucial role in preserving the integrity of Hillsboro’s historic uptown district. Council was right to inquire about the board’s processes and guidelines, and to determine whether it has sometimes been too slow to respond to the needs of businesses in a fast-paced environment. But the design board, when its mandates are made clear and properly enforced, is a valuable asset in ensuring that changes in Hillsboro’s uptown district are consistent with historic precedents, and that desired alterations will not be a detriment to the visual attractiveness of the uptown area.
Most residents agree that Hillsboro’s appearance has improved in recent years, and the Design Review Board has been an important part of that enhancement. We commend council for taking a closer look at the board, but we agree with the majority on council that its continued existence and function are important for the future development of the city.