Trash Talk: Mal de M.E.R. No Longer

Just back from this evening’s Orange County Board of Commissioners’ meeting.

Tonight’s big agenda item, “What to do about the waste transfer station?”

New County Manager Frank Clifton’s extensively reviewed the three proposed options: use the County’s Payfadar property (originally slated for a park) on Millhouse Road, pursue the ill-suited (and ever more expensive) Howell property on Hwy. 54 or “punt” (as Barry Jacobs put it) and temporarily ship our County’s waste to the existing Durham County facility (“Plan B”).

After an excellent set of balanced community presentations from Preserve Rural Orange County (PRO), Orange County Voice and the Rogers Road Coalition (CEER) – many of which covered not just the problems with the proposed sites but posited responsible alternatives – the Board voted 6-1 to not only use “Plan B” but to permanently take the Millhouse-Eubanks-Rogers Road community off the table.

Mal de M.E.R. no more.

I’ve been involved in one way or another on this issue for 5 years. Really pushed to get, and had some success, in creating a transparent community-based process for siting the transfer facility. Proposed using “Plan B” a couple years ago (here and here) to give the Board and community sufficient time to explore a wide range of alternatives.

And, as of this evening, seen the great work from a wide spectrum of County citizens, the thoughtful consideration of our Commissioners finally come to fruition in this decision.

Of course, the work is far from over. I believe that we must eventually managed our waste locally (for instance, like my 2006 suggestion to create an eco-industrial center on the Eno River Economic Development zone to sort, reuse and minimize the waste stream). I also believe that Chapel Hill must step up and bear a greater responsibility in dealing with our contribution to that waste stream. I also believe we must coordinate with our neighboring communities to create an environmentally responsible end-point for our waste.

That work has yet to begin.


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