Trash Talk: Mar. 13th’s Board of Commissioners Review

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

[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.

Trash Talk: If not Eubanks, where?

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

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)

Trash Talk: Media Steps Up to the Plate

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

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:

Trash Talk: The Ticking Clock

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

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).

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