The nuisances associated with the waste facilities that have plagued Rogers Road residents since the opening of a landfill there in 1972 soon might be things of the past. 

In March the Orange County Board of Commissioners decided to locate a waste-transfer station on the site of the soon-to-be-closed landfill. But the board decided Monday to discuss searching for a new site because of vehement community opposition to the Rogers Road site choice.

Rogers Road community member Neloa Jones said the decision has encouraged her and will embolden her community in its efforts to fight the transfer site.
“I think we’re more motivated to stay on top of things because we’ve put forth great effort and let the commissioners know that we really, really want this to be done properly,” Jones said.

Carrboro Alderman Jacquie Gist said the issue is one of justice.

“It’s really important, and it’s an issue of fairness,” Gist said.

Jones said that the decision itself wasn’t unexpected but that only the timing was a shock. “I was expecting them to rescind their previous decision. … They certainly surprised me doing it this quickly,” she said. 

Chapel Hill Town Council member Mark Kleinschmidt said if the county eventually does select the Eubanks Road site, it will need to apply for a special use permit from the council. He said he’d prefer not to have to deal with that. 

“I’m hoping that the commissioners will reconsider … and not have it even be a question for us,” he said. 

Jones acknowledged the challenge of finding an acceptable site for a facility that handles solid waste.

“Wherever the transfer goes, it’s going to be difficult,” she said.

But, she said, the community of mostly low- to moderate-income blacks has suffered for 35 years. The town promised to close the landfill after 10 to 15 years and to build infrastructure for the residents – promises Jones said were broken.

“We do not want them to consider Eubanks Road as a possibility at all,” she said.

Jones contends that the Solid Waste Management Department didn’t do what they claimed in a memo sent to the commissioners.

“My main critique is that they didn’t do a search; they didn’t do one at all,” she said. “If you go through all the forum meetings, look at the minutes as I did, you’ll know they didn’t do it.”

Gist said the issue of needing more waste management facilities is emblematic of the larger societal issue of producing too much trash.

“You cannot live irresponsibly and then expect it not to cause problems, and this is the local version, the in-your-face version of the problem.”

Gist said the Rogers Road neighborhood has been bearing the brunt of these issues, and it’s time they had a break.

“This one little neighborhood has been living the consequences of all of our irresponsibility.”

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