By: Robert C. Gunst Jr., Staff Writer
Issue date: 10/16/07 Section: City
The residents of the Rogers Road community can’t vote in Chapel Hill or Carrboro municipal elections Nov. 6. The neighborhood, a proposed site for a controversial waste-transfer station, lies outside the limits of each town.
But several candidates running for the Chapel Hill Town Council still think the issue is relevant to voters.
“We have a moral responsibility to show leadership on this issue,” Chapel Hill Town Council candidate Will Raymond said. “This community has borne the county’s weight for far too long.”
In 1972, the residents of the Rogers Road neighborhood were first exposed to the odors and garbage truck traffic associated with a then-new landfill on nearby Eubanks Road.
The residents were told that the landfill would remain open for only 10 to 15 years.
Thirty-five years later, the landfill is still open and processing garbage.
But earlier this year the Orange County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to build a waste-transfer station on the site of the landfill at 1514 Eubanks Road. That decision will close the landfill, which is at capacity, and build an indoor waste-management facility.
It will also guarantee an increase of garbage truck traffic to the area, Chapel Hill Town Council candidate Penny Rich said. Many council members have been confronted with the county’s course of action.
“I value the social equities surrounding this issue,” council member Jim Ward said, referencing the fact that many residents of the Rogers Road area are low-income minorities. “It’s an important issue, and I’m interested in doing something about it,” Ward said.
The Chapel Hill Town Council must now vote on whether to issue a special-use permit that will authorize the rezoning and construction of the waste-transfer plant.
“I plan to review the special-use permit,” said council member Cam Hill, who is running for re-election. “We are doing everything within our power to be considerate of these neighbors.”
With the 2007 municipal election season heating up in Orange County, the issue could be a potential hotbed for debate.
“I certainly think the African-American community will be influenced by this issue,” Rich said.
Resident Neloa Jones said she is strongly opposed to the waste-transfer station’s site.
“I think there has been an injustice done to our community,” she said.
“I live on property that has been in my family for over 100 years. We have had to live with this landfill for 35 years, and it’s time for us to stop carrying Orange County’s burden.”
Another issue at hand in the construction of the $4.7 million facility is that Orange County is shipping its garbage to other parts of the state.
“We need to do a better job and even reduce our trash at the source,” said Carrboro Alderman Joal Hall Broun, who is up for re-election.
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