Rogers Road Community: Honor the Promises!

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

Speaking on behalf of her neighbors, Neloa Jones made an unprecedented plea to the Orange County Assembly of Governments to “honor the promises!”



Direct link to video.

I cannot do justice to Ms. Jones passionate eloquence in trying to condense her statements but if I was forced to summarize, I would simply say her and her neighbors are demanding deeds and not words.

Trash Talk: SqueezeThePulp Led Online

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

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.

Trash Talk: Aarne Vesilind’s History

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

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.

Trash Talk: Promises Unmet

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

[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

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