UNC law professor advocates for Rogers Road community

Samuel Rogers can remember when he could pick blackberries all along Rogers Road.

But after being drafted into the military in 1960 and not returning to Rogers Road until 1983, Rogers came back to find his community completely changed.

“I had no idea it would ever turn into a landfill,” he said.

The Rogers Road community has housed the county landfill for 40 years. The landfill is officially set to close in June 2013.

Local officials have had trouble finding ways to provide restitution for Rogers Road residents. Now, a UNC professor has gotten involved.

In return for housing the landfill, residents were promised a community center and sewage and water hook ups to their homes. But the community center was shut down in August after failing to meet fire and safety standards.

On Oct. 23, UNC law professor Mark Dorosin sent a letter to the Rogers Road Task Force on behalf of the UNC Center for Civil Rights, urging the town to provide water and sewage hook ups to 67 homes affected by the landfill.

“There has been some progress made over the years,” said Dorosin in an interview. “More and more residents have been connected to water, but there’s still very few of them that are connected to sewer.”

He said only 10 percent of the community has been connected to the community’s sewer system.

Dorosin said many residents in the neighborhood felt an initial estimated cost of $4,300 to hook up to the system, in addition to monthly fees to use the system, were too high.

In his letter, Dorosin urged task force members to focus on the water and sewage hook ups rather than reopening the community center.

“Because sewer is so expensive, because it’s complicated, there has been a tendency to put more focus on the community center,” he said. “Which I think the government sees as a more manageable cost.”

But Town Council member Penny Rich said there is no easy solution for the water and sewage hook ups, and money isn’t the only thing obstructing the connections.

“There is certain money that we cannot use to hook people up from the street to their house,” Rich said.

She said there is $288,000 set aside for assistance with the cost of water hookups.

Dorosin said the task force will discuss his letter at its next meeting, which is on Nov. 14.

Until the task force can create a plan for the hook ups, Rogers Road residents are waiting to see what will happen to their community.

“There’s hope that (the landfill) can become a public park, or some other public resource that will benefit the community,” Dorosin said. “Given the burden it has imposed on (the community) for some time.”

Contact the desk editor at city@dailytarheel.com.

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