HILLSBOROUGH- Changing Orange County’s animal control ordinance on the first reading would have required a unanimous vote by the board, but Commissioner Earl McKee made it clear that wasn’t going to happen Tuesday night.

“I won’t be able to support adoption of this because I think the process was wrong, in that we are consolidating not only the various documents, we’re consolidating new recommendations and regulations within that document,” said McKee.

Half a dozen residents came out to protest the proposed changes, which were intended by county staff to streamline the animal control regulations in use throughout the towns and county.

Many said the changes didn’t take into account different conditions in the rural and urban areas. Others worried that the rules would scrap the unofficial designation of “watchdog” to categorize an animal that might protect property, instead recognizing only trained and registered sentry dogs.

“Persons who may roam around inside my fenced backyard, without invitation, especially at night, are trespassers, and they may expect to be barked at, chased and even bitten if they do not flee,” Bob Epting told the board

Commissioners agreed to bring the ordinance back on June 18 for further discussion.

Also delayed was a decision to hire a contractor to help redesign the Northern Human Services Center north of Hillsborough. The building has sat vacant since last year, in part because county staffers say it’s too expensive to heat and cool, and the septic system is too small to accommodate a wide range of uses.

County Manager Frank Clifton suggested an architect could help residents and the board decide how to best re-purpose the historic building into a community center.

“One of the problems that we have technically is as you start to look at those options, you do need an architect and engineer to tell you what will and will not work; what you can and cannot do,” said Clifton. “When you start doing a major renovation of an older structure, it gets into the issue of what do you have to do to meet today’s codes.”

However, residents of the area asked that the signing of the architect’s contract be delayed, saying there needs to be a more formal method for involving the public in the planning process.

“It just feels like we’re throwing a lot of money at something without a real plan,” said Jacqueline McConnell-Graf of Cedar Grove. “And that brings me to the design group. What exactly are they designing? Because I don’t really understand what our plan is. What do we see this facility doing, as a group, and for the north Orange community in particular?”

Commissioners will revisit the issue on June 18 at their last business meeting before summer break. In the meantime, the board will take up budget discussions at a work session on Thursday.