The Orange County Board of County Commissioners held its second business meeting since its summer hiatus on Tuesday. The BOCC opened the floor to public comments on the new Orange County waste and recycling center, reflected on the Schools Safety Task Force and approved the Orange County N.C. 54 Multimodal Corridor Study.
- The BOCC began the meeting with public comments from residents about Orange County’s planned development of a large-scale waste and recycling center on Orange Grove Road. Many residents who spoke live in close proximity to the proposed center. Part of the plan for the center includes the closing of the currently operating facilities on Bradshaw Quarry and Ferguson roads.
- “It means a longer drive for a lot of folks,” Joshua Setzer, a Chapel Hill resident who lives near the proposed site, said. “More driving means more emissions, obviously. I think more driving also means more illegal dumping and burning of garbage.”
- Another resident who lives near Orange Grove Road, Barry Lawrence, said issues such as possible noise pollution and contaminated runoff from the center could impact nearby property values.
- Chapel Hill resident Joyce McGuire said nearby residents will not be able to tune out the noise pollution.
- “This was within 100 feet from someone's back door,” McGuire said. “Limited cover will not keep out noise.”
- The BOCC also reflected on their Schools Safety Task Force, facilitated from February through June 2023 by retired district court judge Jay Bryan and co-chaired by commissioners Jean Hamilton and Earl McKee.
- Bryan said the task force discussed comprehensive safety plans, school risk management plans and best practices for student resource officers among other topics.
- The BOCC also discussed ways to improve meetings on student safety going forward. Hamilton said increased student input would have been helpful, however, many students were unable to attend the safety meetings.
- "This was a good experience, but it wasn't perfect," Hamilton said. "I think one [flaw] was not having the student input that would have been helpful — but the timing was hard for them."
- McKee said the task force should hold annual meetings to discuss student safety moving forward.
What decisions were made?
- The Orange County BOCC approved the Orange County N.C. 54 Multimodal Corridor Study, a project that will widen N.C. Highway 54 and include a path for multi-use transportation.
- Commissioner Sally Greene voted against approving the study. She said she feared that widening N.C. 54 may increase traffic and she said she had talked with Carrboro Mayor Damon Seils about it.
- “The main point is that Carrboro doesn't want it and that Carrboro would bear the brunt of the traffic,” Greene said.
- Mckee said the project may be carried out later by the N.C. Department of Transportation with or without the approval of the BOCC. He said it would be better for the board to approve the proposal in order to have more input.
- “What I would really hate to see more than anything else that I've mentioned is for this board to make the mistake that a prior board made with I 85-40 widening,” McKee said.
The Orange County BOCCs’ next meeting will be a joint meeting with the Orange County Schools and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools boards on Sept. 26. The BOCC also has an upcoming work session on the Orange County Strategic Plan this Thursday from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article said that the proposed Orange County waste and recycling center was an Orange Water and Sewer Authority project. Orange County is seeking to purchase land from OWASA to build a center on, however, OWASA would have no role in, management of or ownership of the center. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for this error.