Wasting economic development

I have to say that besides Eubanks Road, Hillsborough (or of any of our municipalities) is about the worst place I can imagine putting our future waste transfer station. Apparently the two sites being looked at there are in an economic development zone. Unless they are planning for it to heavy industrial development, it doesn't seem like a good fit. (The DTH has a small graphic of the top 10 sites and Hillsborough's response to the two sites on their doorstep.)

These suggestions are so off the wall that I am wondering if they're preparing us for something really awful. I am ready for the Commissioners to get rid of the siting consultants and step up to take some responsibility for our county's garbage for a change.

Sorry this post is so short - I am running our the door to travel to a family gathering. Will be out of town until Tuesday night, but I will still be checking on y'all so behave! ;-)



How about taking responsibility for your city's garbage? The cities (Carrboro, Hillsboro and Chapel Hill) is where the garbage is generated, Dumping it in the county allows them to ignore solutions like reuse, recycling and reduction.

True, 3/4 or so is generated by the towns, but where is there a tract of land large enough in the towns to site this? Eubanks is a perfect location from a geographical standpoint, but it appears the parcel there that the county owns north of the present "wet" landfill is not large enough to accomodate the transfer station in addition to the administration building they want to put there along with other facilities (the "dry" C&D landfill, recycling center, etc.). And of course, there are the concerns of the Rogers Road neighborhood, although that should not stop it from being sited there, IF there was the room. The Hillsborough sites may be too far from the main sources of the trash, forcing those old trucks to drive another 15 miles or so round trip vis a vis the present landfill. And, of course, the residents there don't want it either, who does?

But it has to go somewhere and that somewhere needs to be a site that is close to the main sources of the trash. Even if we sited another landfill, which I think would be best, we would probably still need a transfer station, as that landfill would likely be in some far corner of the county and these small older garbage trucks just won't be able to make it there without substantial additional fuel costs, not to mention wear and tear on the trucks,or the much  more substantial cost of buying new larger, more fuel-efficient trucks, which is a problem in itself.

While I think the commissioners are trying to do the right thing, they have done a poor job of explaining to the public what this transfer station is and what the environmental impacts would be, which are not nearly as bad, it appears, as most folks think it would be. In some respect, this is good, because by and large our commissioners are much better officeholders than they are politicians (certainly better than the converse), but this has become a political problem as much as it is a trash problem; wherever it goes, some folks just won't be happy and some commissioners may lose their seats because of it, which would be too bad because we have a good group of commissioners, but they seem to be politically tone-deaf on this issue.

A project like this is NIMBY raised to the 10th power. I also think the commissioners need to rethink a landfill, although that would NIMBY raised to the 100th power. But that's politics, no one will like everything you do. In the end, we need to make the decision based on what is best for the county, but "selling" it, for lack of a better term, will be necessary first.

But we have to act soon. Even with additional waste reduction, the landfill has at best 2-3 more years. What will we do with our trash when its full and we have no transfer station? Oh boy.



I still think a smaller foot print transfer station within the boundaries of each municipality is the right idea. The county already deals with its trash effectively. Sending the city garbage to the county, even if it's a transfer station misses the opportunity to have the city deal with the problem and come up with creative solutions.

Chapel hill/Carrboro could effectively locate a small foot print transfer station easily next to the old UNC power plant. Hillsboro could locate one near either 40 or 85. The stations could compete in some way to reduce output and the onus would be on the cities to drive savings.

Or I guess I should say, much differently than the towns? Yes, pickup out here is private and usually small haulers or folks do it themselves (as I do, bringing it to the Cedar Grove Hwy. 86 recycling site) but it the trash still goes to the landfill and if there were a transfer station, it would go there.

Source reduction is great, but there will always be plenty of trash, certainly in foreseeable future.  

You see the trouble siting one transfer station and yet you suggest 4? I don't how small the footprint, it would still be large enough to generate opposition.

For good or bad, the towns ceded the waste issue to the BOCC. They accepted that responsibility. They are trying to do the right thing, in my opinion, they are good people. But poltically, this has become a train wreck.

I believe that the county recycles much more than the municipalities because it is a necessity. We don't have curbside pick up and separate trash as a matter of course to minimize the wet garbage. I know the Ferguson road sit claims to lead the county in recycling and I think it is a model for a small transfer station.

A smaller footprint station is a lot less obtrusive, and can be located within a non-residential area. Because it handles less there is less traffic coming and going. Smaller transfer stations could be encouraged to compete and adopt best practices. So yes I see less trouble creating 3 (not four), one in each municipality, leaving the existing county sites as transfer stations as they sit now.

But all that aside, my point remains that the county is employing a business as usual approach to a problem that cries out for creative solutions. Part of that solution has to be the municipalities because they create most of the garbage. It must be in their best interest to think creatively as well.

Interesting discussion. I agree with TBlake that cities should be held accountable for their own garbage. The usual solution would be to make the producer pay - so that each of us would pay for trash pickup by the pound or gallon. However such negative incentives would make for increased illegal disposal. Positive incentives seem to work well, giving the ultimate sources a good reason to collect recycleables. We found that Oregon's bottle bill gave grocery stores incentives to provide recycling machines that pay consumers to bring in their glass and aluminum bottles/cans. Haven't seen that here yet. If we were to do something like that for plastic bags and other containers we might see further reduction of the most long-lived trash. how might that work?

Interesting question. I honestly believe most people want to do the right thing and will even slightly inconvenience themselves to do so. Most just don't know what to do or how to tell hype from fact these days. I am reminded of the Brita water commercials that criticize plastic water bottles but provide no way to recycle the Brita water filters (plastic). Of course the filters represent a miniscule amount of trash when compared to water bottles, but the double message in unmistakable.

I think the same sort of misinformation and partial truths are swirling around the transfer station debate. Again it is an "economics" approach that treats trash as a commodity and looks at how the people who generate it solve the problems it brings.

Having been around and involved during landfill debates. When the decision was made that the we would ship the trash out of the county the leadership should have started the process for a tranfer site. Part of the reason they didn't was the landfill leadership was split among County/CH/Carrboro. The forcus was on putting trash under one roof i.e. County. What has not been mention in the present debate was that the trash transfer would need railroad service to have that option open to shipping by rail.

As a candidate for Commissioner in 1996 the landfill was a hot topic. In fact the landfill claimed one incumbent who was the point man on the landfill issue. I wasn't opposed to extending water lines for those residents who had endured the landfill as a neighbors all these years. The hookup could have been paid out of tipping fees. There was opposition because it would promote development. Just look at what is there today. People have bought land and built houses knowing the landfill was down the road thereby benefiting from depressed prices. I predict that within 5 years of the landfill closing and no tranfer site on Enbunks Road the africa american community will be hard to find, because land and home values will go up and price folks out.

I doubt solutions 12 years ago would have been approprate for today.

I disagree with those that make a racial issue out of Rogers and Eubanks. I recall it was a decision based on logistics and expediancy.

You are right about a lot of development *since* the landfill was conceived. Ultimately the area will become absorbed by Chapel Hill and or Hillsboro. Perhaps they will take it by eminent domain and put an airport there :) (just kidding)


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