On October 26, the Coalition sent a letter via email to Chapel Hill and Carrboro Mayors, Chapel Hill City Council, and Carrboro Aldermen to get their opinions, for the record, on the Waste Transfer Station and the environmental justice implications of the landfill and transfer station. The letter and the responses received to date follow here. Letter to Elected Town Officials   We encourage your comments to the posting. 

Responses received to date

Bill Strom, Mayor Pro Tem, Town of Chapel Hill

Thanks for the opportunity to answer CEER’s questions concerning Rogers Road Neighborhood Issues, and the proposed Orange County Solid Waste Transfer Station.

1) Do you wish to have Orange County consider other sites for the solid waste transfer station?

YES!

2) Does continuing solid waste activities, including building a solid waste transfer station in the Rogers-Eubanks communities, constitute environmental injustice by your definition?

YES!

In addition – Here is a response I submitted to the local NAACP on this topic which explains my perspectives and my position as a current elected official:

I think the county needs to find a site for its transfer station that is acceptable to surrounding neighborhoods. That is not the case at Rogers Road. Although I can’t give a “binding” yes or no answer to whether I would vote to permit the proposed transfer station because a special use permit application has been submitted and I am legally required to hear all the evidence before making a decision, I am very concerned about the burden Rogers Road has had to carry for our community over the years. We need to take care of our waste in a way that does not harm the quality of life for minority and under-represented communities.

I am extremely concerned about the Rogers Road neighborhood. As co-chair of the Rogers Road Small Area Plan Task Force I have learned a great deal and worked hard to establish the following set of principles which have been accepted by the town council regarding future growth the Historic Rogers Road Neighborhood:

The task force considers that new development ought not leave the neighborhood “behind” and recommends that the Council consider how developments in the area (including the transfer station) address the following guiding principles which have been prepared by the task force, and refers to the task force interim report received by the Council June 27, 2007.

a.. Provide alternative road access into and out of the neighborhood

b.. Improve transportation access through all modes (vehicles, bicycle and

pedestrian, transit).

c.. Manage existing and through traffic

d.. Maintain affordable living to current residents

e.. Preserve the environment and cultural heritage of the area

f.. Foster a sense of community amongst the residents

g.. Encourage rehabilitation of declining residential properties

h.. Encourage a full range of services for existing and future residents (don’t leave the existing residents behind)

i.. Provide utilities to meet community needs

j.. Encourage well built, affordable, smaller homes

Improve the standard of facilities for the community

Given these principles in place I do not see how the town of Chapel Hill can proceed permitting the transfer station. I hope the commissioners come forward with a comprehensive plan which the whole community can be proud of.

Thanks for all your hard work making us a more fair and just community,

Regards,

Bill

Bill Strom, Mayor Pro Tem

Town of Chapel Hill

919-933-2711


Jacquelyn Gist, Assistant Director

Non-Profits, Social WorkUniversity Career Services

 

1) Do you wish to have Orange County consider other sites for the solid waste transfer station?

YES. No one neighborhood should have to shoulder the burden alone for over 30 years.I still want the elected officials to honor Howard’s Lee’s promise

 

2) Does continuing solid waste activities, including building a solid waste transfer station in the Rogers-Eubanks communities, constitute environmental injustice by your definition?

Yes, see above. A transfer station will solve some problems but there will still be truck and smell issues


 

Mark Chilton

I am not sure whether I already responded to your questions, but here goes:

1) Do you wish to have Orange County consider other sites for the solid waste transfer station?

Yes.

2) Does continuing solid waste activities, including building a solid waste transfer station in the Rogers-Eubanks communities, constitute environmental injustice by your definition?

I think it would be an injustice to:

a) site a solid waste disposal (or transfer) facility without a systematic site search that uses objective criteria for making the ultimate selection, or

b) choose a solid waste disposal (or transfer) site based upon the inability of the neighbors to resist the selection of that site – that is, for example, the establishment of the Orange Regional Landfill on Eubanks Road was essentially environmental injustice in 1972 because the site was selected, either by design or through neglect, partly because the neighbors were poor and politically disenfranchised.

Piggybacking off the 1972 site selection process is unfair to the neighbors and violates both of the principles I stated in a) & b) above.

That said, the practical matter is that the landfill is where it is and we should finish up using that site and close it in the next few years. Please let me know if I can clarify my position any further.  Thanks,

-Mark Chilton


 

Dan Coleman

Thank you for asking these questions. I have decided to answer them by referring to my public statements from last March (in italics).

1) Do you wish to have Orange County consider other sites for the solid waste transfer station?

Yes

The commissioners can help matters by disclosing their process of investigating sites or, if that has been less than thorough, undertaking a more rigorous search.

2) Does continuing solid waste activities, including building a solid waste transfer station in the Rogers-Eubanks communities, constitute environmental injustice by your definition?

Yes

My own thinking is informed by my sense that the environmental justice issue is paramount. The transfer station may, in itself, not be the sort of burden the landfill has been but its placement on Eubanks Road nonetheless further burdens the Rogers Road neighbors. It is impossible to separate this placement from the long history of abuses suffered by this neighborhood and by the larger African-American community.

Best,

Dan


 

Sally Greene, Candidate

I don’t know what happened, but I do not believe I got an email asking me to answer these questions by 5:00 today. Perhaps others had the same problem. Perhaps it got caught in our spam filters?

At any rate, below I am copying the answer that I gave to the question about the transfer station on the Hank Anderson Breakfast Club’s questionnaire.

Yes I believe there is evidence of environmental injustice. The statute that applied in the Greene County case, which I talk about below, is, in essence, an “environmental racism” statute. The statute requires a thorough search when a county is creating or expanding a landfill. As I say below, I believe the spirit of that statute should apply. I am glad to see county commissioner Mike Nelson calling for a reopening of the issue of the transfer station’s siting (see the previous posting to the blog).

Sally Greene

What is your position on the Rogers Road Landfill Transfer site issue?

A request for a special use permit for the transfer station may come before the Council at a later time, and it will be a quasi-judicial proceeding, so it is my duty to keep an open mind before making a decision on the issue when it is before us. But I can tell you something in my background that will have a bearing on my decision. A number of years ago, I was the chief writer on a brief submitted to the Court of Appeals in a case involving the potential siting of a regional landfill in Greene County. I represented a group of citizens that was fighting their commissioners’ decision to site this landfill next to an existing one.

By North Carolina statute, before a county sites a landfill within a mile of an existing one (or even one only recently closed), it has to demonstrate that it has given real consideration to alternative sites, and it has to take the socioeconomic data about the surrounding area into consideration. The Greene County commissioners had paid bare lip service to the statute; basically, they made a sham of the process. The citizens prevailed on appeal.

They got an opinion from the Court of Appeals that says “consider” means to give more than passing attention to alternatives, that you really do have to study the options. That statute does not apply to the siting of the transfer station, since it isn’t a landfill. But I believe the spirit of it ought to be followed. Among the other issues that the Council would have to consider in a special use permit application, I would be looking for evidence that other alternatives had been seriously considered before deciding that it was in the public interest to permit a facility that burdens this community with our solid waste yet another time.


 

Cam Hill, Councilman 

1) Do you wish to have Orange County consider other sites for the solid waste transfer station?

Yes. OC has never done a search that has any chance of being considered fair or objective.

2) Does continuing solid waste activities, including building a solid waste transfer station in the Rogers-Eubanks communities, constitute environmental injustice by your definition?

Yes. The site has been used long enough; it is time for another site. Injustice, environmental and otherwise has been done.

My actions are geared toward getting things done, not making public pronouncements. I believe all of your neighborhood’s concerns will be addressed. I think you all have done a great job of raising awareness of the issue.–Cam Hill


 

Randee Haven-O’Donnell, Town of Carrboro Board of Aldermen

1) Do you wish to have Orange County consider other sites for the solid waste transfer station?

I wish to have the Board of County Commissioners consider other sites for a LANDFILL. Having been on the Orange County Human Relations Commission and co-chaired the sub-committee on Social Justice, I have a heightened awareness of the social, economic and environmental justice concerns facing Orange County.  I am concerned that the siting of any waste facility needs ample time, care, informed decision-making, and citizen input than that which went into the decision-making for a transfer station on Eubanks Rd. 

With the siting of the Orange County Landfill on Eubanks Road, the Rogers Road neighborhood had promises made and promises broken. This is unconscionable leadership.

 After orchestrating the fact finding visit to the Greensboro waste transfer station, talking with key Rogers Road neighborhood and County and municipal leaders I have come to the conclusion that:

1. A waste transfer station is an incorrect environmental and economic path as it forces the county taxpayers into the unconstrained position of paying out tax dollars to locally then long-distance haul waste.  Transferring waste is not sound environmental decision-making, nor is it sound fiscal responsibility.  We need to take full responsibility for our own county waste and keep our tax dollars local. 

When thinking of siting another landfill in Orange County, we need to look seriously at non-residential areas such as those at the interstates’ crossroads.

2.  Should the County decide to continue the pursuit of a waste transfer station, as in Greensboro, the waste transfer station is sited in an industrial park area.  When considering other sites in Orange County, do not compromise neighborhoods, affordable and limited wealth communities.

2) Does continuing solid waste activities, including building a solid waste transfer station in the Rogers-Eubanks communities, constitute environmental injustice by your definition?

Yes.  See statements above.  When the initial decision was made to site the Orange County landfill on Eubanks Road assurances were made to the Rogers Road community.

With the passage of time and elected officials transition the promise thread was not maintained and subsequently broken.  At that time, promises were made with clear understanding by elected official and neighbors of the sacrifice and injustice to the Rogers Road community.  It was with that understanding that the Orange County Landfill was constructed and serviced the county all these years.  Current leadership must take up and repair the broken promise and meet the full list of compensations recommended by the Rogers Road Neighborhood Task Force.  I have and continue to support the Rogers Road Task Force recommendations in full.

Randee Haven-O’Donnell


John Herrera, Alderman, Town of Carrboro

Dear Rev. Campbell:

I have been traveling and want to acknowledge that I did receive your letter and I apologize for not being able to meet your response deadline.  I will give you a short answer to your questions. I truly believe that these issues are larger than just the Rogers Rd Community, but are the responsibility of the entire county.  They deserve a long discussion and thoughtful analysis of the issues at stake and their ramifications.

1) Do you wish to have Orange County consider other sites for the solid waste transfer station?

Definitely YES. Other sites and other options should be fully explored in the open and with ample participation and community input.

2) Does continuing solid waste activities, including building a solid waste transfer station in the Rogers-Eubanks communities, constitute environmental injustice by your definition?

By my definition, YES. I do not know how else to call the systemic disenfranchising of low income communities of people of color, who historically and at present continue to carry the extra burden of solid waste and lack of services, when compared with other more affluent communities.

I further believe that this historical neighborhood should stop carrying the waste for the county and neglect, but should receive major infrastructure and financial retribution.

John Herrera

Alderman, Town of Carrboro


 Jim Ward, Candidate

Dear CEER supporters,

I apologize for getting this to you after 5pm. I knew you had asked for replies by Wed, which I was prepared to do, but failed to notice the 5pm request. Pls consider my reply though after 5pm.

1) Do you wish to have Orange County consider other sites for the solid waste transfer station?

Yes. I want to be certain, and I want the citizens of Orange County to be certain that the Board of Orange County Commissioners have done a thorough job of evaluating all solid waste transfer station sites within our County, critically weighing the associated (social, environmental, and economic) pros and cons. I also urge the Commissioners to reject the transfer station model, and instead adopt a solid waste plan which does not include shipping our ‘garbage’ to some distant County or State.

2) Does continuing solid waste activities, including building a solid waste transfer station in the Rogers-Eubanks communities, constitute environmental injustice by your definition?

Yes. After ~35 years of ‘hosting’ the landfill, and after being told by previous elected leaders that the closure of the landfill would signal the end of the Roger’s Rd neighborhood need to carry this County-wide responsibility, it is time for others within the County to carry the community’s solid waste burden.

Sincerely,

Jim Ward


 

Kevin C. Foy, Mayor, Chapel Hill North Carolina

This is to acknowledge that I have received the emails. However, I believe that it is more appropriate for members of the Council to address these matters in public meetings. I am sure that we will do so when the issue comes before us.

Kevin C. Foy

Mayor, Chapel Hill North Carolina

(919) 968-2714

http://www.townofchapelhill.org/mayor


Advertisements