The Chapel Hill Town Council was to continue its discussion this evening about how to fund the extension of sewer service to the Historic Rogers Road Neighborhood, in it's first meeting of the 2014-2015 session. However, town staff is again recommending a continuation of the public hearing.
The public hearing began nearly a year ago. On October 21, 2013, town staff presented information about the possibility of extending the town's extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) into the Rogers Road neighborhood. This action was recommended by the county's Historic Rogers Road Neighborhood Task Force, because it would enable the town to spend community development funds to help bring sewer to the area. Some council members have been reluctant to support extension of the ETJ boundary, though the staff has not yet identified another mechanism for providing the town's share of the project cost.
Tonight, staff will recommend that the discussion be postponed until October 15, this time to allow for the completion of neighborhood outreach efforts by the Rogers-Eubanks Neighborhood Association (RENA) and the Marion Cheek Jackson Center for Saving and Making History. RENA and the Jackson Center were funded jointly by Orange County, the Town of Carrboro, and the Town of Chapel Hill to survey residents and engage them in the process of implementing the sewer project. According to the staff memo:
We anticipate that by the October meeting date, preliminary survey data will be available and provide income information on the possible eligibility of the area regarding community development funding options. This data will provide us with the necessary information to make a recommendation on the extension of the ETJ boundary.
Coincidentally, after months of the Orange County Board of Commissioners refusing to discuss how to fund the sewer extension pending the results of an EPA investigation, Orange County issued a press release last Thursday, saying the following:
ORANGE COUNTY RECEIVES GREEN LIGHT FROM ATTORNEY: ROGERS ROAD IMPROVEMENTS
ORANGE COUNTY, NC (September 4, 2014)—The Board of Orange County Commissioners (BOCC) is pleased to announce the County can move forward with funding improvements slated for the historic Rogers Road community.
This, following the apparent conclusion of an investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the opinion of the county attorney that the BOCC no longer needs to refrain from considering major expenditures for Rogers Road.
While funding the improvements to the Rogers Road area is no longer inhibited by the EPA’s investigation, the County will be prudent in its actions, since the investigator’s decision is pending.
"The final decision of the EPA could substantially delay a project that may be no more risky than any other," said County Attorney John Roberts. “The investigation remains open and proceeding with an appropriate level of caution is advised."
According to the EPA's investigator the agency is currently preparing its investigation report and decision letter and anticipates having a final resolution of the case shortly.