Update on the Work of the Historic Rogers Road Task Force

Molly De Marco's picture

The Historic Rogers Road Task Force has made progress over the past several months to redress the burden the Rogers Road community has carried in receiving the county's solid waste for over 40 years. Details of a community center are nearing completion. Habitat for Humanity of Orange County will donate two lots for the siting of the community center in the Phoenix Place subdivision. The Orange County Board of Commissioners has approved a capital project of $500,000 to build the community center. A plan is being ironed out for the Rogers-Eubanks Neighborhood Association to rent the commuity center from the county for $1 per year. The towns of Carrboro and Chapel Hill will contribute to the center's programming costs.

On September 18, 2012, the Board of Aldermen agreed to contribute up to $900,000 for the remediation effort.

The more complex issue of extending water and sewer to properties in the neighborhood that are still on septic tanks has taken more time, but progress has been made. The current proposal is to sell off parts of the Greene tract (see page 7 of this report for location) to the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school district for the building of a new school and to sell or lease other parcels potentially for affordable housing. Open space would remain for recreation, with the potential to combine this space with school recreational facilitites. However, representatives to the task force from the Carrboro Board of Aldermen have requested that other alternatives for financing be considered, because the Greene tract is one of the only remaining large green open spaces in the area.

The Orange County Assembly of Governments will meet on December 6 to discuss these plans. During the meeting, an interlocal agreement will be discussed. This agreement will spell out the cost percentages that the county and towns will commit for the sewer and community center.

The county and town managers are working on a "sewer authority" plan that would cover only those in the Rogers-Eubanks community. Funding for this sewer authority could come from use of the Greene tract or an assessment of a short-term fee on tax bills (an idea that was floated and subsequently discarded in the task force). Should the sewer authority mechanism not work, funds could be sought from Federal sources such as the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, however if federal funds are sought, the subsidy to extend sewer lines from the street to the house will need to also be offered to other low-income households in the county as well, which would mean an increase in the amount of funds needed. Any plan will need to be agreed to by all three boards and OWASA. 

Still to be worked out is a sliding scale of compensation to cover the extension of sewer from the street to each house based on when the homeowner purchased the home (was the home owned prior to the opening of the landfill or bought subsequently) once the plan is in place.

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4 Comments

Molly De Marco's picture

What's next

At the AOG meeting on December 6th members of the various governing bodies discussed next steps for the Rogers Road Task Force. One of the key sticking points was whether or not the Task Force should continue to meet or whether it has completed it's charge. Newly elected Orange County Commissioner Penny Rich argued that the task force had met it's charge and that the county and towns' staff should proceed from here. Other elected officials felt that more work was still needed from the Task Force to fully complete it's charge to develop a community center and provide sewer lines to residents and that maintaining the Task Force would continue to provide a good mechanisim for direct involvement of the Rogers Road community. The Orange County Commissioners will need to vote on whether or not to continue the Task Force. They will be discussing this issue at their January 25th Board Meeting. If the Task Force does continue, three new members will have to be appointed - one to fill the Chapel Hill Town Council spot vacated by Penny Rich and two to fill Orange County Board spots vacated by Pam Hemminger when she lost her bid for re-election and Valerie Foushee when she was elected to the North Carolina House.

Extending the task force

I really hope the BoCC listens to the majority of elected officials and votes to extend the life of the task force. I also think they should keep Pam and Valerie on the task force, even if they are no longer Orange County elected officials. We've spent too many years talking about a solution and now that action is underway, it would be a crying shame to slow down that progress. Plus, as Michelle Johnson noted, this task force is the only means the residents have of participating in solutions that directly impact them.