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The Daily Tar Heel

The Orange County Board of County Commissioners held its first meeting of 2023 on Tuesday to honor recently retired U.S. Rep. David Price (D-NC 4th), expand homeowners’ ability to build secondary dwellings on their property and announce selectees for the Community Climate Action Grants.

What’s new?

  • The Orange County BOCC passed a resolution of commendation for Price. He served as a representative for North Carolina’s 4th Congressional District from 1987 to 1995 and again from 1997 to 2023. Following the passage of the resolution, Price spoke to commissioners at the meeting.
    • Price said the support of county commissioners has been crucial for developing infrastructure, lessening dependence on foreign goods, combatting climate change and making healthcare more affordable.
    • “I feel like this is a pretty good finale for me and for other members,” Price said.
    • Commissioner Earl McKee thanked Price for his dedication to his constituents.
    • “I remember the first time I met you formally at an event you had in Chapel Hill, and I was blown away by your courtesy and your attentiveness that you showed me for a brief time, brief conversation,” McKee said.
  • Cy Stober, Orange County's planning and inspections director, spoke about an ordinance text amendment renaming “efficiency apartments” to “accessory dwelling units.”
    • Accessory dwelling units are defined as smaller structures incorporated into or on the same property as a larger primary dwelling. Current local regulations state that they can be a maximum of 800 square feet of heated floor space.
    • An amendment was made to the ordinance allowing accessory dwelling units to be up to either 1,500 square feet or 50 percent of the primary residence size, whichever is larger. The goal of this amendment is to allow for more flexibility in how homeowners use their land.
    • “The housing department goals allow for more flexibility for residential homeowners to realize secondary homes on their property, either as rental opportunities or to allow family to reside on the property without having to go through the subdivision process, which can be financially and procedurally burdensome,” Stober said.
  • The Orange County BOCC voted unanimously to allocate climate action project grant funding to seven nonprofit organizations, schools and businesses.
    • Project applications that advanced social justice goals were prioritized for funding.
    • These projects include a solar roof at the ArtsCenter, HVAC replacements in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools buildings and food waste monitors at the Eno River Farmers Market.
    • Amy Eckberg, the Orange County sustainability programs manager, spoke about the grants. She discussed past successful grant projects and answered questions from commissioners on this year’s grants.
    • “I think this is designed mainly to help provide some assistance to all of these really great and exciting applications,” Eckberg said.
    • “These projects are something that will move us forward to where we're gonna need to go and it'll move us forward in a very physically responsible manner,” McKee said.

What other decisions were made?

  • The board voted to reallocate excess funds from the 2021-2022 fiscal year into this year’s budget.
    • The funds will go towards servicing existing county debt, a school capital reserve fund and a county capital reserve fund.
    • McKee said the funds directed at servicing debt have averted a potential tax increase.
  • The board voted to decompress the salaries of juvenile justice employees, citing critical understaffing in that department.
    • Salaries for the adult prison system were previously decompressed, leading juvenile justice employees to move to the adult prison system.

When is the next meeting?

  • The next Orange County BOCC business meeting is on Feb. 7, and the commissioners will be attending the North Carolina City and County Management Association's winter seminar from Feb. 1 to 3 in Winston-Salem.

@DTHCityState | 

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