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The Daily Tar Heel

Orange County BOCC approves funding for bridge housing, services contract

Melissa Teitelman and Stacey Markwell of Chapel Hill enjoy a walk with their dogs Middie and Hobbs on a trail in the Greene Tract Forest on Nov. 16, 2021.

The Orange County Board of County Commissioners discussed a contract for a community engagement specialist for the Greene Tract area and funding for a bridge housing opportunity during its Tuesday business meeting. The BOCC also received updates about Medicaid expansion.

What’s new?

  • Cy Stober, the planning and inspections director for Orange County, presented a services contract for community engagement for the Greene Tract Master Plan.
    • The Greene Tract, a parcel of land jointly owned by Orange County, Carrboro and Chapel Hill, is located between Eubanks and Homestead roads.
    • The services contract focuses on ensuring community engagement for the development of the area, particularly from the Rogers Road and Eubanks Road communities.
    • The total price of the contract is $244,800 and the cost will be split between Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Orange County. Orange County and Chapel Hill will each pay $105,264, and Carrboro will pay $34,272.
    • A piece of the eastern part of the area is not included in the services contract for development, due to concerns with railroad interference. Stober said the team did not want those concerns to become wrapped up in the contract.
    • “We need to pursue connectivity, a road network, in that eastern area, but otherwise, right now, the discussion on density and development is focused on the western area,” Stober said.
  • Caitlin Fenhagen, the criminal justice resource director for Orange County, presented a budget amendment request to fund a bridge housing opportunity at 2032 Homestead Road in Chapel Hill in collaboration with Alliance Health and Caramore Community.
    • The project will provide temporary, bridge housing for people exiting mental health institutions or homelessness with behavioral health needs.
    • Ann Oshel, the senior vice president for Alliance Health, said the company is committed to creating programs that ultimately keep people out of institutional care when community living should be an option.
    • The program has capacity to serve six participants and will have onsite staff seven days a week. Four of these participants will be referrals from Orange County, while the other two will be referrals from Alliance Health.
    • The program requested $73,944 to cover a portion of the operating costs for the next six months, which includes a one-time start up fee of $20,850. Moving forward, funding requests will be made as a part of the regular budget.
  • Lindsey Shewmaker, the human services manager in Orange County, reported on upcoming Medicaid expansion. The report covered the new parameters for Medicaid coverage and the expected changes for Orange County. 
    • According to the report, 6,869 more people will receive Medicaid coverage in Orange County following the expansion, bringing the expected total to 26,068 in 2024.
    • “I think we have a lot of people in our community who have needed this resource and this assistance for a long time,” Shewmaker said. “We want to encourage people to apply as soon as possible, but with that comes a lot of potential applications to work through.”
  • The BOCC also received a report from Nish Trivedi, the Orange County transportation director, about the U.S. 70 Multimodal Corridor Study.
    • The report included information from public engagement sessions and studies conducted to evaluate traffic data, safety and environmental effects of transit through the corridor.
    • Trivedi said there  is going to be a focus on safety for all traffic users in this corridor. 
    • “Transit is also a major focus of this corridor,” he said.
    • There will be another public engagement workshop within the next few weeks, then the plan will be drafted and open for public comment.

What decisions were made?

  • The council voted 5-2 to approve the contract for a community engagement specialist for the Greene Tract Master Plan. Commissioners Earl McKee and Phyllis Portie-Ascott voted against.
  • The commissioners unanimously voted to approve the budget amendment to fund the bridge housing opportunity.

What’s next?

  • The BOCC will hold its next business meeting on Dec. 4 in the Whitted Building.

@DTHCityState |

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