Orange County officials discuss ways to meet proposed landfill closure date

After almost 40 years of living with a neighbor that has riddled their streets with trash, residents of the Rogers Road neighborhood are one step closer to being able to send their garbage somewhere besides their own backyard.

The Orange County Board of Commissioners met with the Chapel Hill Town Council, the Carrboro Board of Aldermen and the Hillsborough Board of Commissioners Thursday night, and the group decided to look into ways to dispose of county trash to meet the proposed June 2013 landfill closure date.

County commissioners previously discussed using the Durham transfer station, which would ship Orange County trash to Virginia, as a short-term solution, but public officials at the meeting spoke in opposition to making the county’s trash someone else’s problem.

Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton said using the Durham station would cost the town about $200,000 more annually and worried that the fix would become permanent. He proposed looking into opening a transfer station at the N.C. Highway 86 and Interstate 40 intersection in Chapel Hill instead.

“I don’t think (the Durham transfer station) is a responsible use of taxpayer dollars — it’s neither fiscally nor environmentally sustainable,” Chilton said. “We’ve by no means concluded that that site does work, but we strongly believe it’s possible that it could work. ”

The assembly seemed to support investigating Chilton’s proposal, but the feasibility of using the space as a transfer station remains uncertain because the area is classified as a rural buffer zone.

After a pilot program revealed transporting trash to Durham would cost Chapel Hill between $500,000 and $600,000 annually, Town Manager Roger Stancil said staff will select a consultant by next month to evaluate the town’s solid waste operations productivity and supply cost-effective alternatives to using the Durham facility.

“Ultimately, our long-term goal is to retain our waste here in Orange County and put it to use to enhance our quality of life,” Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said. “What we determine is the best solution for Chapel Hill is probably not going to differ too much from what is the best solution for Carrboro — we’re right next door.”

Despite the continued debate on what to do with county trash once the landfill closes, officials did establish a committee to discuss how the towns and the county can work together on remediation projects for the Rogers Road neighborhood.

In October, commissioners voted to provide water services to 67 properties in the historic portion of the Rogers Road community, but that was only the first step in the remediation process.

The new committee, which will consist of two representatives from each jurisdiction, will outline each partner’s financial responsibility in creating a community center and installing sewer access in the Rogers Road neighborhood by the fall of 2012.

“Going forward it is going to be very important that we are all in this together,” Chairwoman Bernadette Pelissier said.

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at city@dailytarheel.com.

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