March 2007


I appreciate folks dropping by and sampling my blather.

While I write CitizenWill from a Will-perspective, I also try to be somewhat objective in my analysis. Not just say, for instance, that Greenbridge is too tall but to actually measure and model its footprint in GoogleEarth. I also like to link to my source materials so that folks can cut through my BS and do their own homework.

In fact, one reader just asked for some of the SWAB minutes I’ve drawn upon. I’ll deliver that plus 17 years of Orange County BOCC minutes to boot.

Unfortunately, quite a few documents are Adobe PDFs. Worse, many are actually scanned as images instead of textual documents that a Google or Yahoo can index making searching a real beast (for a couple hundred bucks, the county could purchase OCR software to convert those images to text).

Textual PDFs of the Orange County Solid Waste Advisory Board (SWAB):

The following are the minutes for the landfill’s LAND OWNER’S GROUP (LOG) 0/01/1990 to 04/01/2007 [no, I haven’t read them all – yet 😉 ]
I’ve tried to remove duplicate references and narrow the list to those minutes most pertinent to both the landfill and transfer station site selection.

WARNING! The list is over a hundred items long and may take a while to load on a dial-up Internet connection.

(more…)

[UPDATE] I won’t be able to attend this evening. Good luck folks.

In case you missed it, there’s a meeting on siting the new trash transfer station on Eubanks Rd. this evening.

The discussion is item # 9b on the agenda.

The BOCC meeting starts at 7:30 pm in the Battle Courtroom 106 E. Margaret Lane, downtown Hillsborough [MAP].

If you get there early, are ‘net savvy and would like to see the video of BOCC meetings on-line, you might want to consider spending a few moments asking for online access when 5f. Authorization to Debut Live Casting of BOCC Meetings [PDF] comes up.

Commissioners, not everyone has cable.

I might not make it this evening but I bet there will be plenty of good folks speaking their minds. Good luck all.

Given the anticipated growth patterns in Orange County, siting the transfer station near a high capacity transit corridor would seem to be best. The BOCC has two additional sites located at just such a location – the Eno Economic Development District [EEDD] (as I noted in Orange County’s Garbage Center of Gravity).

The EEDD is not without some flaws, including the nearby Eno River, but given the access to the already heavily travelled Hwy. 70/I-85 and a nearly adjacent railroad corridor, the EEDD’s transit profile appears quite promising.

After reviewing the various advisory board, staff and other recommendations made over the last few years on siting a transfer station I’m struck by how options were narrowed in absence of other factors.

It would be great if the reassessment that Mark Chilton has called for would include a new kind of decision matrix that took into account a wider variety of factors for deciding a new location:
economic, social and environmental impacts, future growth – including Carolina North, the current and projected centers of waste creation (like UNC), energy costs, etc.

In other words, we need a decision matrix that incorporates more dimensions than a straight landfill engineering problem. That matrix should assign values to social, environmental, economic, etc. impacts and assess possible sites against that metric.

The two US70E sites referenced in tonight’s agenda item [PDF] are:

5412 US70E. Tax Value: $654,435. Asking Price: $3.8M. Size: 19.05 acres.

5701 US70E. Tax Value: $326,942. Asking Price: $2.0M. Size: 16.27 acres.

Google MAP of general area.

Here are the profiles for each of the selected sites:

5412 US 70E (click image to expand) 5701 US 70E (click image to expand)

Who, what, where, when and why might provide the context for local issues but without relevant analysis the local media falls down on their obligation to the inform, as fully as possible, the citizenry.

“Light and Liberty go together”, as Jefferson said. So does “light and good public policy”. The Chapel Hill News (of which I’m an occasional columnist) has been on top of the recent Rogers Road story – not only providing background, like Aarne Vesilind’s Bravery and broken promises mark landfill saga but also editorial leadership like Taking out the trash

There are some good reasons for locating Orange County’s planned solid waste transfer station at the site of the current landfill on Eubanks Road.

That site is closer to the population centers that produce most of the trash than the other possible locations that have been mentioned. The landfill site is already used to handle trash, of course, so you wouldn’t have to disturb any additional parcels of land. And, best of all, it’s the cheapest option on the table.

Reasonable considerations all.

But they’re outweighed by the arguments, moral and practical, against putting a waste transfer station on Eubanks Road. If a transfer station is necessary — and that’s a question that needs some better answers — put it somewhere else.

Back in the early 1970s, the landfill opened on Eubanks Road, where the people living next door were — here’s a shock — the predominantly low-income, black residents of the Rogers Road area.

Those residents were assured at the time by local leaders that they would have to live with the landfill only for a limited time, and then the county would move its solid waste facilities elsewhere.

That never happened. The landfill was expanded, not closed, and for more than 30 years the people who live along Rogers Road have lived with the noise, smell, traffic, trash, discolored groundwater and other noxious side effects of the landfill.

They’ve done their time.

….

Here’s some of their other recent coverage:

The Daily Tar Heel and WCHL 1360 have done their bit:

Though I’ve quoted many relevant comments from OrangePolitics, a watering-hole for local pols, the “other” local forum, SqueezeThePulp has been popping with online commentary for months.

Here’s one of the more active threads Proposed Orange County Landfill Transfer Station Survey which led off with this David Richter open letter to the Orange County Board of Commissioners (BOCC) and elective councils of Carrboro and Chapel Hill:

An open e-mail and appeal to each of elected leaders of Orange County, Chapel Hill and Carrboro:

Proposed: Eubanks Road and the surrounding areas should be removed as a proposed site for the Orange County Landfill Transfer Station from further consideration for now and for the foreseeable future.

Dear Elected Leaders:

I am asking each of you to take an immediate public and personal position on the above proposal. There was a column in the Chapel Hill Herald on Tuesday, 2/13/07 and the Chapel Hill News, 2/14/07 that talked to all the reasons why Eubanks Road should not be the site of the new Landfill Transfer Station. However, the simple fact is that the Rogers Road community was made a promise in 1972 on placement of the Orange County landfill on Eubanks Road. When the landfill was filled to capacity, the Rogers Road community would no longer be subject to Orange County waste facilities and activities. We should not quibble on technicalities or wording. That was the spirit of the promise.

We can talk about how that promise was already broken, but that would not be useful or productive. If the transfer station is located on or near Eubanks Road, it will clearly be a break of the promise and an act of intentional or unintentional “Environmental Racism”. This promise and the decades of contribution by the Rogers Road Community override all the other considerations of cost and expediency. As our current elected leaders, you are responsible to fulfill that original 1972 promise assuring the integrity of our local governments, adhering to the values of our community and just plain doing the right thing.

I am asking each of you to respond to me by March 1^st . The response should be a Yes or No to the above proposal. I will compile all the responses and report it to the local papers. I will also feedback all the responses to those who did respond. Besides each of your names, I will place one of the following entries with no caveats:

– Yes (for the proposal)
– No (against the proposal)
– No position
– No response

I appreciate your attention to this issue and look forward to your responses and a positive result. Thanks.

David Richter

Commissioner Moses Carey responded to David

Mr. Richter;

I am certain that you have followed the process the County is using to make this important decision about the location of the Transfer Station. Our efforts to communicate with the area residents and consider all available sites have been reported in local papers. Additionally the issue of a “Promise ” has been discussed in this community for many years. While you may not be familiar with those past discussions, you may consult the archives of the news papers to become updated on those discussions.

The BOCC has a process to make a decision on the Transfer Station site and I trust we will adhere to it. That process includes listening to area residents and weighing all available information before making a decision. The views of the Towns on the currently considered sites is the next bit of information we will receive for discussion at our march 1st work session during which the public may listen, but not speak. You may wish to attend to be further informed.

However, it would be premature and unethical in my opinion for any elected official to respond to you as you have requested prior to considering all information which must be considered to make an informed decision on this matter.

I look forward to seeing you at our meeting.

and David responded to Moses

Commissioner Carey:

Thank you for responding to my e-mail. I do appreciate your time and consideration. However, I am baffled by your response and disagree with your rationale.

1) I do agree that we have an ethical problem but disagree where the ethical problem lies. Regardless of whether people agree on the reality or the interpretation of the “promise”, it is an undeniable fact the Roger’s Road community has lived with the Orange County Landfill for over three decades in their back yard and all the resulting negative impacts to their quality of life. After three plus decades the fact that Orange County Board of Commissioners is even considering the same area as the site of the Transfer Station is of itself unethical. It is time to look else where to solve Orange County’s waste problems.

2) I do not understand what process you were referencing in your response. I was unable to retrieve any process with a search. If there is a documented process please point me to it. However, in the last posted minutes of the Solid Waste Advisory Board meeting of 11/2/06 it seems there is no current alternative Orange County site list or search of a site in progress. In fact it is my understanding there is no official criteria for a Transfer Station site in place. The minutes clearly promote the Eubanks Road site for the Transfer Station as the path of least resistance. As far as I can tell, Eubanks Road is the “ONLY” site within Orange County under consideration. Please tell me if I am wrong and if so I apologize and where can I find the list? It is also important to note that any “process” leading to an unethical result is far from appropriate.

For our elected leaders to stand up at this time and be counted is not unethical; it is the right thing for them to do. I urge them to be counted, if not through an e-mail to me (I am just a single citizen speaking for myself) then through other venues. I also urge the Orange County Board of Commissioners to take the ethical path and instruct the Solid Waste Advisory board to take Eubanks Road off the table and find another site for the Transfer Station regardless of the convenience factor. After all, the Rogers Road Community has been living with the “inconvenience” for a long time.

David Richter
Carrboro

Yes, SqueezeThePulp snide, nasty and tough at times with a few dust ups that drown the signal out with noise (like the crappy tit-for-tat that Fred Black and Mark Gill had in the middle of this transfer station discussion) but it does serve a locally online community that Ruby’s OrangePolitics doesn’t.

And that online community, on the Rogers Road issue, led the way.

I mentioned this before, but on the cusp of tonight’s meeting I’d like to remind folks of Aarne Vesilind excellent overview in the Chapel Hill News (Feb. 21, 2007) of some of the history of the Eubanks landfill.

Before the early 1970s, Chapel Hill was using a small landfill owned by the university for the disposal of its solid waste. This landfill was rapidly running out of space and the university wanted to close it, so a search commenced for a new landfill site. The Town Council decided to buy a piece of land to the north of town for the new landfill.

Abutting this land was a vibrant black community, the Rogers Road neighborhood. They did not want the landfill so close to their homes and went to Mayor Howard Lee for help. The mayor talked them into accepting the decision and promised them that this would be the one and only landfill that would be located near their neighborhood, and if they could endure this affront for 10 years the finished landfill would be made into a neighborhood park.

Most importantly, they were told that the next solid waste landfill for Chapel Hill would be somewhere else and that their area would not become a permanent dumping site. The citizens of the Rogers Road neighborhood grudgingly accepted this deal and promise and then watched as the Orange County Regional Landfill was built near their community.

Although Lee acknowledged making this promise, this was never found on any written document. In addition, the people who lived in the Rogers Road neighborhood were told that the LSC was not bound by promises made by former elected officials.

The fact that the Greene tract was too small to afford a long-term solution continued to be a source of encouragement to the Rogers Road neighborhood, but late in the process and well after the public hearings, Eddie Mann introduced a new site, named OC-17. This site abutted the Greene tract and the Rogers Road neighborhood and included a large tract of land in Duke Forest. The LSC quickly approved OC-3 and OC-17 as the new landfill site and the decision went to the LOG for its approval.

The vote in the LOG was 6-3 in favor of the selected site. Two of the negative votes were by the representatives from Carrboro. Even though Carrboro ought to have had a clear, selfish motive for choosing this site, the two Carrboro representatives, Mayor Mike Nelson and Alderman Jacquelyn Gist, argued that the promise made by Howard Lee to the Rogers Road neighborhood should be kept.

He closes with this observation:

The question in front of the people in Orange County now is whether to continue along their path of least resistance and least cost and place yet another solid waste processing facility in the Rogers Road neighborhood, or to thank these people for all the years that they have had to endure the presence of the landfill in their community, and to tell them once and for all that they have indeed done their part.

Complete column here.

[UPDATE:] Dan Coleman posted this nice summary over on OrangePolitics of the ’97 minutes:

Thanks, Mark. Your four points are absolutely correct. As well as reviewing the 1997 agreements, the Commissioner’s ought to take a close look at the landfill neighbors’ current “Hope List”:

  • 1) Cover open bed trucks going to landfill (agreed to in 1997 document)
  • 2) Lower speed limit from 40 to 25 (issue with DOT)
  • 3) Trash pick up along side Rogers Road (agreed to in 1997 document)
  • 4) Site clean up and community assistance
  • 5) Transit system for Rogers Road (promised in 1997, cost estimate for next FY requested last month)
  • 6) Summer jobs for youth (15-19)
  • 7) Sidewalks on both side of road (Carrboro is proceeding with study of its side)
  • 8 ) Define county-wide goals as relate to Rogers Road communities
  • 9) Recreation program in this community

I met with Reverend Campbell and Barbara Hopskin last week to discuss this list. It seems to convey a clear sense of what the neighborhood is looking for. I was struck by the extent to which these items are matters of common-sense, with many part of our regular processes for neighborhood improvements (improvements Rogers Road has waited on for far too long).

Thank you Dan for doing the heavy editing!

[ORIGINAL]

As I posted before, the Rogers Road community was supposed to receive value in trade for siting a landfill in their backyards.

During the Oct. 22nd, 1997, Assembly of Governments meeting (minutes [PDF] ) the following statements were made, reviewed, submitted to a vote and either passed or not.

First, these 5 key points of which each governmental body was asked to agree upon:

1. The County becomes the local government with primary authority and responsibility over operational and policy matters related to the solid waste system, subject to the limitations imposed by the Agreement.
2. In its capacity as the system operator, the County agrees to establish and maintain a new disposal facility, and in return for access to disposal capacities the Towns agree to provide their solid waste and recyclables to the County system.
3. The parties jointly agree on the location of that new disposal facility.
4. The parties agree on benefits or benefits processes related to the communities (a) in the area of the existing landfill and (b) in the area of the new disposal facility.
5. The parties agree on some treatment of the Greene Tract.

The following commitments were made:

ITEM FOURTEEN (xiv): This item reads as follows: The Working Group recommends that three residents of the area near the Eubanks Road landfill (two in the Rogers Road area, an one in the Millhouse Road area) be identified to receive all mailings and information sent to members of the Landfill Owners Group or its successor agency. This information should be made available to all residents of the area.

A motion was made by Council member Chilton, seconded to Alderman Gist, to approve this item as written.

VOTE: MOTION PASSED

Status: I’m not aware of the compliance with this directive.

ITEM TEN (x): This item reads as follows: The Working Group recommends that Chapel Hill Transit re-route the North-South connector bus line to serve Rogers Road on either its northbound or southbound trip, starting with the 1998-1999 service year. For the duration of the 1997-1998 service year, the Rogers Road area should be designated as a Shared Ride Feeder Zone if this can be accomplished within adopted budgets and available resources. [MY EMPHASIS]

Council member Franck stated that changing the bus route would be a “zero” cost option from a budgetary viewpoint. It will have a slight cost from a transit operation standpoint. This was not the first choice of Manager Cal Horton who recommended an alternative route.

A motion was made by Council member Franck, seconded by Alderman McDuffee, to approve Item Ten.

VOTE: Motion Passed

Status: Unmet due to various reasons. Brought up again during 2005 Chapel Hill election. Finally looks to be implemented.

This item reads as follows: The Working Group recommends that Orange County erect “Children Playing” and “School Bus Stop” signs on Rogers Road. Residents of the Rogers Road neighborhood will identify appropriate locations for these signs.

Commissioner Halkiotis asked if the Department of Transportation had declined this request.

Council member Chilton said that they had declined, however, the Town of Chapel Hill would provide these signs.
A motion was made by Council member Chilton, seconded by Alderman Gist, to approve this item as presented.

VOTE: Motion Passed

Status: For several years I’ve heard complaints from Rogers Road citizens that the signage is not sufficient.

ITEM EIGHT (viii): This item reads as follows: The Landfill Owners Group will budget for the installation of perimeter fencing around the Orange Regional Landfill no later than the 1998-1999 Budget Year. Prior to completion of the fence, the Director of the Orange County APS shall be notified ,strong>to ensure that no large animals are trapped inside the fence.

Commissioner Gordon requested clarification regarding the concerns staff had about providing this perimeter fencing.

County Manager Link indicated that staff had questions about whether a 6’ fence was adequate given that deer could jump over a fence that high.

Council member Chilton stated that the neighbors were concerned about animals going into and out of the area, in particular dogs and vermin. The construction of a fence designed to control animals would be approximately $50,000 more expensive than the cost of the original fence which was approximately $150,000.

Commissioner Halkiotis suggested that the height and mesh needed to be adequate to keep out both vermin and deer.

A motion was made by Mayor Nelson, seconded by Alderman Gist, to approve this item as presented.

VOTE: Motion Passed

Status: Might’ve dealt with large animals getting out but the converse, keeping small animals like rats in, not complied with to the Rogers Road community’s satisfaction.

ITEM SEVEN (vii): This item reads as follows: The Working Group recommends that residents living near the Orange Regional Landfill take initiative in identifying perpetrators of illegal dumping near the landfill to assist in successful prosecutions. Identification of vehicles, license tags, drivers, and/or types of articles discarded should be made when possible.

The Landfill Owners Group will investigate with the Orange County Attorney the possibility of enacting legislation which would provide for civil penalties for illegal dumping, to make it easier to penalize people who litter. In addition, the LOG will publicize the names of those convicted of illegal dumping.

The Working Group recommends that additional “No Littering” signs be erected in the neighborhoods near the landfill.

A motion was made by Commissioner Carey, seconded by Alderman Gist, to approve Number Seven.

VOTE: Motion Passed

Status: A common complaint is that the current garbage transfer trucks produce a great amount of roadside litter. I’d be interested if anyone knows of haulers being cited for violating either local or state litter laws.

ITEM SIX (vi): This item reads as follows: The Landfill Owners Group will adopt a policy governing construction at the Orange Regional Landfill. This policy will govern issues affecting neighboring residents, including nighttime construction, blasting, and noise. The policy will identify ways to mitigate or eliminate adverse effects on landfill neighbors, and will require all neighbors (those living in the areas to be provided with water and sewer service) to be notified one week in advance of the start of construction. Such notification shall include the estimated duration of construction, and a description of any special construction activities which may impact neighbors. Notification will, at a minimum, include posting of signs on the four roadway entrances into these neighborhoods (the north end of Millhouse Road, both ends of Eubanks Road, and the south end of Rogers Road).

Under ordinary circumstances, the LOG and its contractors will avoid construction between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 am and will provide for immediate notification of neighbors when emergency circumstances dictate that construction activities are unavoidable during these hours. The LOG will ensure that any contractors carrying out construction at the landfill follow the Orange County Noise Ordinance.

Council member Chilton stated that Chapel Hill staff’s assessment was that construction would most likely be happening all of the time, which would mean that signs would be posted all of the time.

A motion was made by Alderman Zaffron, seconded by Mayor Nelson, to approve Number Six of this agreement.

VOTE: Motion Passed.

Status: I remember complaints about construction noise when the landfill infrastructure was being modified/expanded during the early 2000’s. Not sure how the complaints were resolved.

I would hope that a similar provision would be adopted and ENFORCED if the transfer station is built on Eubanks.

ITEM FIVE (v): This item reads as follows: The Landfill Owners Group will adopt a policy which doubles the minimum frequency of litter pickup on roads surrounding the Orange Regional Landfill. This will result in litter pickup on Eubanks Road east of the landfill entrance at least twice weekly, on Eubanks Road west of the landfill entrance at least six times annually, and on Rogers Road at least eight times annually. Future modifications of these pickup frequencies shall be made only by the Landfill Owners Group or its successors.
A motion was made by Council member Franck, seconded by Alderman Zaffron, to approve this item.

VOTE: Motion Passed.

Status: Roadside litter is a common complaint. I don’t recall any complaints on frequency – I hope to get a better read on this soon.

ITEM FOUR (iv): This item reads as follows: The Landfill Owners Group will adopt a policy which requires loads of mulch leaving the Orange Regional Landfill to be covered. The Landfill will make available for sale tarps of various sizes for purchasers of mulch to cover their loads. This policy will become effective after a three month grace period, during which time education will be provided to mulch purchasers at the landfill.

A motion was made by Alderman McDuffee, seconded by Council member Franck, to approve this item.

VOTE: Motion Passed

Status: From personal observation (based on several years of following trucks on Eubanks after exiting Millhouse) it seems that government-related loads of mulch are the most likely to be inadequately covered and blowing out. Not sure what the general compliance has been with this provision.

ITEM THREE (iii): This item reads as follows: The Landfill Owners Group will prepare and recommend a policy for adoption by the Chapel Hill Town Council which will require loads of waste (MSW and Construction and Demolition waste) being brought to the Orange Regional Landfill to be covered. Under the policy, loads which are not covered would be subject to fine. The fines would become effective after a three month grace period. Non-commercial first-time offenders should be offered the option of purchasing a tarp at the landfill in lieu of paying the fine.

Council Member Chilton stated that there is already a state law to this effect but it is not as stringent as this requirement would be.

A motion was made by Council member Pavao, seconded by Alderman Zaffron, to approve this item.

Status: Need more information. My personal observation is that compliance has slipped over the years as development has increased.

[UPDATE:] Carrboro Board of Aldermen Dan Coleman offers this succinct list of motions approved and defeated. From OrangePolitics:

ASSEMBLY OF GOVERNMENTS
OCTOBER 22, 1997

  • Item: three residents of the area near the Eubanks Road landfill (two in the Rogers Road area, an one in the Millhouse Road area) be identified to receive all mailings and information sent to members of the Landfill Owners Group or its successor agency.

    Motion Passed

  • Item: no expansion (beyond the existing permitted disposal capacity) of the disposal areas (MSW or Construction and Demolition) of the Eubanks Road landfill occur.
    The Working Group recommends that the Landfill Owners Group or its successor make no incremental land acquisitions at the Eubanks Road Landfill.

    MOTION FAILED

  • Item: following the closure of The Eubanks Road landfill, portions of the landfill (as allowed by regulations), the Neville tract, and at least 50 acres of the Green tract will be used for recreation facilities.

    MOTION FAILED

  • Item: sponsor a public information meeting regarding the planning boundary (future annexation boundary) between Chapel Hill and Carrboro.

    MOTION FAILED

  • Item: re-route the North-South connector bus line to serve Rogers Road on either its northbound or southbound trip, starting with the 1998-1999 service year

    Motion Passed

  • Item: erect “Children Playing” and “School Bus Stop” signs on Rogers Road.

    Motion Passed

  • Item: budget for the installation of perimeter fencing around the Orange Regional Landfill no later than the 1998-1999

    Motion Passed

  • Item: Investigate with the Orange County Attorney the possibility of enacting legislation which would provide for civil penalties for illegal dumping, to make it easier to penalize people who litter. In addition, the LOG will publicize the names of those convicted of illegal dumping.
  • Item: The Working Group recommends that additional “No Littering” signs be erected in the neighborhoods near the landfill.

    Motion Passed

  • Item: policy will govern issues affecting neighboring residents, including nighttime construction, blasting, and noise. The policy will identify ways to mitigate or eliminate adverse effects on landfill neighbors

    Motion Passed

  • Item: litter pickup on Eubanks Road east of the landfill entrance at least twice weekly, on Eubanks Road west of the landfill entrance at least six times annually, and on Rogers Road at least eight times annually.

    Motion Passed

  • Item: requires loads of mulch leaving the Orange Regional Landfill to be covered. The Landfill will make available for sale tarps of various sizes for purchasers of mulch to cover their loads.

    Motion Passed

  • Item: require loads of waste (MSW and Construction and Demolition waste) being brought to the Orange Regional Landfill to be covered.

    Motion Passed

  • Item: water and sewer mains be extended to provide service to the area along the entire length of Rogers Road; Millhouse Road from Eubanks Road to New Jericho Road; and serving households on other side streets off these main roads (including, but not limited to Purefoy Drive, Rusch Road, Priscilla Lane, Sandberg Lane, Meadow Run Court, Manor Drive, Manor Court and Blackwood Mountain Road)

    Motion Did Not Pass

For a problem 35 years in the making, the push to finalize the site of the transfer station seems precipitous. To echo Mark Chilton’s letter, until a county-wide assessment is made, setting a timetable now is not prudent.

Here’s the draft timetable from tonight’s agenda item:

It would be nice to see a concurrent push to reduce, reuse and recycle (even more) of the waste stream that paralleled the implementation of the transfer site irrespective of where it is sited.

For instance, a plan to effectively utilize the biomass to produce bio-diesel, methanol or methane to supplement other centralized sources of energy should go hand-in-hand with our transition to a new waste site (wherever it is sited).

I’ve got a slew of garbage transfer station posts that have been piling up in anticipation of tonight’s (Mar. 13th’s) Orange County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting [ agenda ] and agenda item [PDF].

To lead off, here’s one of the newer developments, a letter from Carrboro’s Mayor Mark Chilton speaking not from his official capacity but as a concerned citizen:

Dear Mr. Chairman and Commissioners;

The Carrboro Board of Aldermen has not collectively come to a conclusion about the proposed Transfer Station, but realizing that you may be making major decisions on March 13, I am writing on my own behalf solely, rather than as a voice for the entire Board. I have struggled a lot with the question of locating a Solid Waste Transfer Station on Eubanks Road, as I know you have as well. Here is what I have concluded about this idea:

1. I do not believe that any genuine commitment was ever made to have the Landfill be the last solid waste facility ever located on Eubanks Road. However, the fundamental fairness issues that are raised by the proposed Transfer Station site are valid. It is clear that at least unconsciously the race and income of the neighbors were factors in siting the landfill on Eubanks Road. To build the Transfer Station there without a systematic site search or any compensation would be eating the fruit of the same poisonous tree, as they say in criminal law.

2. Although the County staff has clearly done a lot of homework on some possible sites, a systematic search has not been made. A site along I-40 or I-85 is obviously desirable, but there must be more possibilities than have been given serious consideration to date. For me, it might be possible to conclude that Eubanks Road is the only feasible site IF a systematic site search came to that conclusion. So far as I can see, that has not happened.

3. The County and Towns have not yet accomplished all of the Compensation Items that were agreed to by the Assembly of Governments in 1997. As a community we need to revisit the issue of compensation for the impacts of the existing landfill. Discussion of a further facility there without having provided the compensation we already agreed to ought to be totally out of the question.

4. If the County Commission decides to proceed with the Eubanks Rd. Site, then I believe that the County needs to undertake an additional round of compensation negotiation with these same neighborhoods and that the County needs to be meaningfully generous in such negotiations.

Finally, I do not want to imply that the above conclusions are easily drawn. I know that all of us are trying to find the best, practical solution for our entire community and I am not writing to criticize anyone who may come to a different conclusion about this matter, but the County Commission asked for my opinion and so, here it is. In short, I respectfully believe you have a lot more homework to do.

Sincerely;

Mark Chilton
Mayor of Carrboro

TerriB asks this quite relevant follow up over on OP: What were the promised compensations (#3)? I hope sewer connections were one of them.

As some of the more “critical” of you readers have noted elsewhere, CitizenWill is certifiable – and here’s the proof.



I zipped down yesterday to Raleigh for the 2 hour campaign treasurer training session to comply with the new NC election statutes. Though I’ve been filing reports since 2005, and a lot of the material was old hat, the session, held at the tucked away State Board of Elections (SBOE) was still interesting.

Here’s a few observations.

Of the 24 folks attending, PACs and candidates were equally represented. I sat next to Linda Stevens treasurer. Time-Warner’s PAC was there. Some very spiffy dressed folks – election newbies – helping run Rocky Mount’s mayoral and sheriff elections attended.

Only one other candidate, former or otherwise, came – a man running for Zebulon council and his wife. He said that election campaign rules were being prolifically broken in Zebulon.

As a side note, Mike Nelson told me I was foolish to be my own treasurer – which, given all the “complex” contributions he received in 2006 😉 – I can appreciate. He also said he didn’t review the reports, something I think is a bit foolish. Mike’s pushing for some reforms at the county level – non-partisan elections, unfortunately, is not one of them.

A long lead up to mentioning that the training I received will be online and available in May.

I suggest every candidate – even those like Mike with the luxury of a campaign treasurers – go through the self-paced tutorial. In the end, the buck stops with the candidate.

Some confusion was introduced by the SBOE this year as the reports are now based on an election cycle – which starts the day after the election – instead of current method, which tracks the years. The gap between Nov. 8th to Dec 31st has to be handled differently. Several PAC folks whinged on about the delta.

In the toothless election law reforms department, county party executive committees can give unlimited funds and receive unlimited funds. Chapel Hill municipal elections are non-partisan (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) so this wide open avenue to funding doesn’t pertain but what a major gap.

Also in the toothless vein, folks can give $50 per day in cash up to $4000. Why toothless? Cash is fungible and hard to track – like a check. Bundling contributions appears to be a problem.

Business contributions, which are illegal, continue to be an issue.

Lots of time spent talking about in-kind from folks who are self-employed – are they acting as an individual or a business? For those folks, if you receive a check on their business letterhead, a “business statement” must be filed by the campaign asserting that the individual commingles personal/business funds and only has a single account for everything…

Using administrative staff or even your business phone for campaign activities is verbotten.

The trainer underlined that contributions from out-of-state require all info be reported (too bad the same couldn’t be said for out-of-county).

That said, records of all contributions must contain complete info though complete reports are only necessary if the aggregate contributions are over $50.

In-kind contributions require a receipt – including candidate in-kinds. Receipts are not reported.

Another common mistake: loan proceeds plus contributions from an individual cannot exceed $4000 per individual unless one of the excepted groups – (candidate, spouse, party committee). My total campaign was a little more than $3300…

Any amount of postage can be paid in cash.

Expenditures. Vendor expenses must be itemized. I’ve seen local reports that didn’t itemize.

Designation of Committee Funds form needs to be filled out to dictate
the fund transfer if you should die/etc. Leaving funds to a 501c3 allowed.

NCS: 163-278.16B “Use of contributions for certain purposes.” [PDF] was the biggy.

(a) A candidate or candidate campaign committee may use contributions only for the following purposes:
(1) Expenditures resulting from the campaign for public office by the candidate or candidate’s campaign committee.
(2) Expenditures resulting from holding public office.
(3) Contributions to an organization described in section 170(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (26 U.S.C. § 170(c)), provided that the candidate or the candidate’s spouse, children, parents, brothers, or sisters are not employed by the organization.
(4) Contributions to a national, State, or district or county committee of a political party or a caucus of the political party.
(5) Contributions to another candidate or candidate’s campaign committee.
(6) To return all or a portion of a contribution to the contributor.
(7) Payment of any penalties against the candidate or candidate’s campaign committee for violation of this Article imposed by a board of elections or a court of competent jurisdiction.
(8) Payment to the Escheat Fund established by Chapter 116B of the General Statutes.
(b) As used in this section, the term “candidate campaign committee” means the same as in G.S. 163-278.38Z(3).
(c) Contributions made to a candidate or candidate campaign committee do not become a part of the personal estate of the individual candidate. A candidate or the candidate who directs the candidate campaign committee may file with the board a written designation of those funds that directs to which of the permitted uses in subsection (a) of this section they shall be paid in the event of the death or incapacity of the candidate. After the payment of permitted outstanding debts of the account, the candidate’s filed written designation shall control. If the candidate files no such written designation, the funds after payment of permitted outstanding debts shall be distributed in accordance with subdivision (a)(8) of this section. (2006-161, s. 1.)

The update of this statute was prompted by the Speaker Black debacle.

Interesting point raised on the fashion front. Under the new regulations a candidate can’t purchase a new suit to campaign in and pay for it with campaign funds. Since the suit has a lifetime beyond the campaign, it’s considered a personal expenditure.

Websites and email are not addressed in media regulations. Personal website can be used for campaign purposes without a disclaimer if no new costs associated otherwise it might possibly be considered an in-kind. The law is silent on “new media”.

Another major problem (that the crew over at BlueNC are well aware of), independent media buys with a “Not Authorized by…” can be bought in unlimited amounts. That is, if someone, like Anglico’s Puppetmaster, wants to purchase unlimited media for a candidate and states “This ad is not authorized by my toady to be…”, then it’s alright.

I was astonished by this loophole and had the trainer clarify my understanding. Amazing!

Printed disclosures no less than 12pts, for newspaper 28pts. I threw one of the SBOE staff a curve when I pointed out that different fonts have different sizes at 12 pts.

Interestingly , in television, if you mention opposition candidate the candidate must speak the disclaimer. Not sure about radio.

youTube is not covered.

Over and over, the SBOE emphasized yo need to keep records of every contribution no matter how small. And look for edge cases. Example – sell $20 t-shirt + $30 contribution, you trigger the $50 reporting limit.

Any committee can use the SBOE’s software for managing reports.

That’s about it. I’m now a qualified campaign treasurer for the next 4 years.

If anyone needs a hand forming their committee, I’ll be happy to help: campaign AT willraymond.org

A nice follow up to Terri’s homeless census post is Mark Zimmerman’s My View column in the recent Chapel Hill News

How do you solve the homeless problem? Give them a home.

That almost sounds like a bad joke, doesn’t it? But it’s what the Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness Steering Committee is about to propose in its Ten Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness. The partnership includes 60 community leaders representing dozens of organizations working on a local plan in response to a federal homelessness initiative.

Included among the partnership’s recommendations is a plan to move chronically homeless from the streets into permanent housing accompanied by intensive services.

The program is a relatively new idea called Housing First. It’s a federal initiative based on the principle that some people — the chronically homeless — need the stability of a residence before they can overcome the issues that led to their homelessness. The traditional model has required people to become “housing ready” before getting their own place. Housing First turns that model on its head.

So who are these chronically homeless? They are a group born of a federal definition: individuals, homeless for at least a year, or consistently homeless over several years, with a disability (often substance abuse or mental illness). These are folks who haven’t just been hit with problems. They have become part of their problem.

The chronically homeless are a minority of the homeless population (39 were counted in Orange County last year). However, they are among the most visible. Current treatment and care programs haven’t proven very effective. This group uses a disproportionate share of services, draining limited resources. They are costly to our hospitals and are more likely to draw police attention. They are often the ones who invoke the unfortunate vituperation of some residents, businesses and visitors.

That “vituperation” has been commented on extensively over on this thread at OrangePolitics.

Mark continues:

Housing First will take a commitment from the community to succeed, especially since we don’t want to divert funds currently assisting the transitional and non-chronically homeless. Indeed, Housing First is just one of multiple strategies in the Ten Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness to address the continuum of housing needs in our community.

I hope this proposal will engage our community in productive debate, for there is one point on which both advocates for and detractors of our homeless population agree: We should get these folks off the streets. Whatever else you may think about it, Housing First promises to accomplish that.

Checkout the whole column to see how Mark’s thinking change over the course of his investigations.

Cross-posted from Terri Buckner’s (TerriB’s) ‘blog LocalEcology

Orange County Homelessness Fact Sheet
February 2007

Total Number of Homeless People Counted in January 2007: 224

  • Homeless people staying in temporary shelter: 199
  • Homeless people without shelter (i.e. on the streets): 25
  • Homeless families: 23
  • Homeless people in families (including children): 60
  • Homeless children: 35
  • Homeless individuals (not in families): 164
  • Homeless people with a history of domestic violence: 23
  • Chronically homeless people: 71

These figures do not include numbers of people who are “doubled up,” that is without a legal residence of their own and temporarily staying with another person. Furthermore, the data does not account for people who are at-risk of homelessness for any reason including unemployment, foreclosure, eviction, chronic or sudden illness and domestic violence. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 40.5% of renters in Orange County pay 35% or more of household income toward rent which qualifies as at-risk of homelessness.

In Orange County:

  • A minimum wage earner (earning $5.15 per hour) must work 117 hours per week, 52 weeks per year, to afford the fair market rent (FMR) for a two-bedroom unit, which is $785 per month. An SSI recipient (receiving $603 monthly) can afford monthly rent of no more than $181, while the fair market rent for a one-bedroom is $603 (Out of Reach Report, 2006).
  • In order to afford FMR for a two-bedroom unit ($785), without paying more than 30% of income on housing, a household must earn $2,617 monthly or $31,400 annually. Assuming a 40-hour work week, 52 weeks per year, this level of income translates into a Housing Wage of $15.10 (Out of Reach Report, 2006).
  • In 2006, the Inter-Faith Council served 85,055 hot meals; provided 7,726 bags of groceries to 7,187 members of the community; granted 3,500 requests for food, cash, and help with utilities and other service needs representing more than 2,100 households; and offered 813 homeless individuals a place to sleep through its Community House and HomeStart program.
  • Neighbor House, Inc. distributed at least 17, 680 dinners to members of Northern Orange County through its Food for All Program in 2006. They are currently serving an average of 85 meals per night, four nights per week.
  • In 2005, the Community Initiative to End Homelessness received approximately $275,000 to provide permanent housing to homeless and disabled individuals or families. The funding is shared among OPC Area Program, the Chrysalis Foundation for Mental Health, Inter-Faith Council for Social Service and UNC Horizon’s. The CIEH applied for additional homeless assistance funding in 2006, but award letters have not been received as of 2/13/07.

I’m trying to find how the $275,000 in Community Initiative to End Homelessness funds were actually dispersed.

Council member Sally Greene has also been doing work (and blogging about it) with the ORANGE COUNTY PARTNERSHIP TO END HOMELESSNESS

Thanks Teri for shining a light into the shadows, please keep the posts coming.

I was struck by a conjunction between the following image from the Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization 2035 Long Range Transportation Plan Socio-Economic projections I mentioned earlier and the debate currently raging over siting a trash transfer station on Eubanks Road.

35 years ago the Orange County landfill currently blighting the Rogers Road community was sited close to Chapel Hill/Carrboro communities because they constituted the predominant source of garbage.

Now, with projections of dramatic population shifts 30 years hence, it seems like the center of gravity for Orange County’s trash production (creation?) is shifting North.

I did a quick review of the Orange County Board of Commissioners agenda items covering the Rogers Road issue and couldn’t find a discussion of a new “trash axis”.

Maybe those more mathematically inclined could weigh in on how to calculate this new centroid which, it would seem, help locate the most effective transfer site.

Potential site for transfer station at the Hwy 70/I-85 split (within the Eno Economic Development District):


Eno Economic
Development District

I use the our Town’s two websites, Townhall.TownOfChapelHill.org and TownOfChapelHill.org, quite extensively to keep up with our local governance.

More and more I’ve run into:

The page cannot be displayed

Explanation: There is a problem with the page you are trying to reach and it cannot be displayed.


Try the following:

  • Refresh page: Search for the page again by clicking the Refresh button. The timeout may have occurred due to Internet congestion.
  • Check spelling: Check that you typed the Web page address correctly. The address may have been mistyped.
  • Access from a link: If there is a link to the page you are looking for, try accessing the page from that link.


Technical Information (for support personnel)

  • Error Code: 500 Internal Server Error. -1073479663(-1073479663)

Last week I couldn’t retrieve a number of agenda and minutes attachments from 2005 and 2006. Yes, they’re tucked away somewhere safe on paper in the Clerk’s Office, but that is not too end-user friendly.

I know Bill, Ari and Bob work hard to keep our IT afloat, I have to wonder if this is related to our use of CivicPlus’ “free” service.

Our Town’s “free” trial is about to expire, we should iron out these difficulties before moving forward on a renewal.

Or, as our citizen’s Tech Board realized, we need to move to a non-proprietary provider that uses accessible, open standards.

One of RAM Development’s Chapel Hill projects is the poorly sited Walgreen’s on the corner of MLK (Airport Rd.)/Weaver Dairy Rd [MAP]. I’ve commented ( Godzilla vs. Bambi: RAM Development and Chapel Hill) on the problematic expeditious manner this project is taking through “official” channels.

Our Council’s dealings with RAM Development shouldn’t even have the appearance of being preferential.

RAM’s customer, Walgreen Co., seems to be having a bit of trouble involving preferential treatment:

Walgreen Co., the largest U.S. drugstore retailer, was sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over claims the company assigned black managers and denied them promotions based on race.

The retailer, based in Deerfield, Illinois, used race as a reason to send managers, management trainees and pharmacists to low-performing stores and to stores in black communities, the agency claimed in a statement. Walgreen also denied employees promotion opportunities in violation of U.S. law, the EEOC said.

“It is quite serious,” said Andrea Baran, a senior trial attorney for the EEOC, in an interview. “We received charges from around 20 individuals in the Kansas City-St. Louis area,” as well as Florida, Detroit and other regions, she said. “All of the evidence supported these people’s claims.”

The U.S. government lawsuit follows a court victory for the company last month in a case also related to discrimination allegations. Walgreen won a jury verdict in a suit brought by four Texas men who claimed a clerk used a racial slur when they tried to have film developed at a store in Reno, Nevada.

Bloomberg, Mar. 7, 2007

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