The Daily Tar Heel

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Tuesday December 6th

Towns, county take on Rogers Road plan

More than a year and a half after the Historic Rogers Road Neighborhood Task Force formed, the group has finalized its recommendations for a $5.8 million sewer extension plan.

The task force was charged with studying the extension of sewer and water services to the Rogers Road Neighborhood, a historically black and low-income community that housed the county’s landfill for 41 years.

The task force is composed of eight members — two from the Rogers-Eubanks Neighborhood Association, two from the town of Chapel Hill, two from Carrboro and two from Orange County.

The cost of the plan will be shared by all three municipalities. Carrboro will pay 14 percent, Chapel Hill will pay 43 percent and Orange County will pay 43 percent. Chapel Hill and Carrboro have set aside the money for their contribution to the extension.

During their respective meetings Tuesday night, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners and the Carrboro Board of Aldermen discussed the task force’s recommendations.

Aldermen look for reimbursement

The Carrboro Board of Aldermen passed a resolution approving the final report from the Rogers Road Task Force.

The boundary for the new sewer and water system includes undeveloped land, including the Greene Tract, a jointly owned 169-acre piece of land that sits adjacent to the Rogers Road neighborhood. Alderman Jacquelyn Gist said the new boundaries will ultimately lead to the development of this area.

“We all know that development follows water, and particularly development follows sewer,” she said.

The aldermen stipulated in their resolution that future developers of the area should contribute to reimbursing the cost of the systems.

“New developments that use these lines should pay a share,” said Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton.

The sewer and water extensions might raise property values in the Rogers Road neighborhood, and Gist said that could ultimately push low-income people out.

“I think that with the community center, and the new school, and the new park and the closing of the landfill will change that neighborhood,” she said.

Gist said it’s up to the community itself to decide if it’s comfortable with change.

“I trust with what I’ve heard from the community that they’re well aware of that,” she said. “It may be that people are fine with that.”

Orange County Commissioners discuss sewer funding options

While commissioners did not make a decision on its portion of the funding Tuesday, members discussed their options for financing the plan.

Commissioner Mark Dorosin said there are many funds available to the county that have not been used.

The county can’t move forward with its budgeting for the neighborhood until the town of Chapel Hill is legally committed to paying for the sewer and water extensions, said Michael Talbert, the assistant county manager.

The town of Chapel Hill is considering an extraterritorial jurisdiction, known as an ETJ, so it can legally contribute to the sewer improvements.

“Either annexation or ETJ for Chapel Hill would give it more interest in the Rogers Road area,” Talbert said.

Commissioner Penny Rich said the money the county gives to the Rogers Road neighborhood should benefit the entire community, not just the low- to moderate-income residents.

“It is really important that the neighborhood has a say for what happens with their neighborhood,” Rich said.

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