The Orange County Board of Commissioners met Monday night to pass a resolution on reparations, elect new members to the board and listen to public response over the proposed Buc-ee’s gas station on Interstate 85.
Reparations for African Americans
The BOCC passed a resolution by a vote of 6-1 in support of reparations for African Americans, Black people and descendants of slaves in the Orange County community. Commissioner Earl McKee voted against the resolution, citing uncertainty in the costs of the resolution and its amendments.
The resolution states Orange County apologizes for its role in the enslavement of Black and African American people and commits the BOCC to work toward the elimination of racial bias, individual racism and structural racism.
“This is the anniversary of the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery in the United States," Price said at the meeting. "Here we are, decades later, still dealing with the repercussions of slavery."
The resolution also calls on North Carolina to take a more active role in enacting policies to begin the reparation process and the federal government to implement policies that eliminate the racial wealth gap, establish a program to provide a universal basic income and increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour or higher.
“A resolution like this is really important to remind us of American history and how it was built on the exploitation of people, especially African American people and people of African descent," commissioner Jean Hamilton said at the meeting.
The resolution helps fulfill the Orange County Social Justice goals of fostering a community that rejects oppression and inequality and enables full civic participation. Read the full resolution.
Newly elected and re-elected commissioners
The BOCC's newly elected commissioners, Jean Hamilton and Amy Fowler, and re-elected commissioners Renee Price and Mark Dorosin each took their oath of office earlier on Monday in closed ceremonies.
The board voted Renee Price as the new chair of the board and Jamezetta Bedford as vice-chair.
“I want to thank the Orange County community for giving me another four years to serve,” Price said at the meeting. “I look forward to working with my colleagues on this board, thank you again.”
The BOCC recognized and commended former BOCC Chair Penny Rich and former commissioner Mark Marcoplos for their service to Orange County during their time on the board.
Public outcry over Buc-ee’s on I-40/85
Multiple Orange County residents brought up worries about the new Buc-ee’s development on Exit 161 on Interstate 40 during the public comments section of the meeting. Orange County residents said the gas station would disrupt the rural, natural landscape of Efland.
Buc-ee’s, a popular Texas-based gas station, received approval from the Orange County Planning Board in November. It would require 104 acres of Orange County property to be rezoned, and the proposed location is directly on top of an Upper Eno Protected Watershed.
Tim Spruill, an Efland resident for 21 years, said at the meeting the existing zoning preserves the rural character of Efland.
"While allowing some development, it protects Efland from the extreme effects of massive, totally irresponsible and totally inappropriate development such as Buc-ee’s with a litany of environmental and traffic problems,” Spruill said.
The BOCC will vote on its approval on Dec. 15.
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