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Rogers Road hearing may be delayed again by Chapel Hill Town Council

The Chapel Hill Town Council might postpone a public hearing on the Historic Rogers Road neighborhood for a second time this year at its Monday meeting, this time delaying the hearing until fall.

The Rogers Road community agreed to house the county’s landfill in 1972, on the condition that the landfill would only be there for 10 years and that they would later receive hookups to water and sewer.

But more than 40 years later, people in the community still feel neglected.

For years, the town council has discussed extending sewer to 86 households in the Rogers Road neighborhood with the Carrboro Board of Aldermen and the Board of Orange County Commissioners.

“We’re like a car stuck in the mud,” said the Rev. Robert Campbell, president of the Rogers-Eubanks Neighborhood Association and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP. “It’s time to stop spinning our tires.”

After the landfill closed in June and the Historic Rogers Road Task Force released its final recommendations in September, residents were hopeful the project was finally moving forward.

Per the task force’s recommendations, the town council began looking into an extraterritorial jurisdiction to include the Rogers Road neighborhood in June.

Extraterritorial jurisdictions give towns the authority to apply regulations in areas outside city limits, said David Owens, a professor in the School of Government.

“You do not pay city taxes, but you are subject to city development regulations,” Owens said of residents in an extraterritorial jurisdiction. “There’s a lot more gray to this issue than it first appears.”

The extraterritorial jurisdiction would enable Chapel Hill to legally contribute its share, 43 percent or nearly $2.5 million, of the cost to provide sewer to the community.

A hearing on the extraterritorial jurisdiction was scheduled for Jan. 13, but was delayed until tonight’s meeting, when it will likely be pushed back again.

Judy Johnson, a senior planner with the town, said tonight’s delay might happen because the managers of Carrboro and the Orange County have been meeting with Chapel Hill officials to explore other options.

Councilman Lee Storrow said he thinks it’s time for the council to decide the best way to move forward policy-wise.

“It’s taken a long time because it should have happened 40 years ago,” Storrow said.

Campbell said the community deserves sewer connections because its well water is contaminated by the landfill.

“We’re talking about people’s lives and health,” Campbell said. “Now how do we get the municipalities to work together to right the wrongs that go back to 1972?”

Johnson said if the town council approves adopting the extraterritorial jurisdiction, Orange County commissioners will then have the final say.

But Orange County commissioner Penny Rich, co-chair of the task force, said she thinks both the residents and local governments are moving in a positive direction.

“Once you get into the details, that’s where it gets complicated,” Rich said. “But this time we really have an action plan to get the people of Rogers Road what they want, which is water and sewer.”

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