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Live-Tweet: Orange County Democratic Party Sheriff Candidate Forum

Here's our Storify from the Orange County Democratic Party's forum for sheriff candidates.

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Process for Providing Sewer to Historic Rogers Road Moves Forward

On February 10, 2014 the Chapel Hill Town Council voted unanimously to pay their share of the preliminary engineering and surveying necessary to extend sewer to the historic Rogers Road Community (this would include 86 home lots). These activities are required for the extension of sewer regardless of whether the Chapel Hill Town Council moves forward with a utility district or ETJ. In addition to funding for this preliminary engineering work, the CHTC voted in favor of including funding for community outreach efforts to assist community members in learning about the preliminary engineering work and what it means to go forward with sewer hook-ups (see agenda item with link to staff memo here).

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Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project Gets Federal Go Ahead

The news much awaited by transit supporters in Orange and Durham Counties finally came yesterday when the Federal Transit Authority (FTA) announced approval of Triangle Transit's request to enter Project Dvelopment phase on the 17-mile Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project. More details can be found in this press release:

DURHAM-ORANGE LIGHT RAIL TRANSIT PROJECT
GETS FEDERAL GO AHEAD FOR PROJECT DEVELOPMENT
 
Research Triangle Park, NC (2-25-14) – The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced today that Triangle Transit’s request to enter Project Development on the 17-mile Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project has been approved. 
 
“We are pleased with FTA’s decision,” said Fred Day IV, Chair of the Triangle Transit Board of Trustees.  “This represents an important milestone in the course of this project.”
 
Triangle Transit General Manager David King said, “We can now proceed to complete the environmental process, advance our engineering and make final alignment decisions.  We will also use this time to strengthen our financial plan and work with our municipal and university partners on land use and housing issues around stations.  We appreciate FTA’s vote of confidence in our work on this project.”
 
Triangle Transit asked the FTA for entry into the New Starts program in December 2013.  A Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 will be completed by January 2016.
 
The light rail line would run from Chapel Hill to East Durham with proposed stops as UNC Hospitals and UNC, Mason Farm Road, Friday Center, Hillmont, Leigh Village, Patterson Place, South Square, Duke University, Duke University Medical Center, the VA Medical Center, downtown Durham and Alston Avenue/NC Central University.
 
The Project Development phase is scheduled to take two years. Project Development is followed by a three year phase called engineering.   Construction would follow the engineering phase and would likely take four to five years before light rail service could begin.  More information is available at ourtransitfuture.com.
 
The project cost is estimated at $1.34 billion dollars (in 2012 dollars).  Voters in Durham and Orange counties have approved a one-half cent sales tax to fund the local share of the rail project along with new and expanded bus service. 
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Justice United, Renters call on Towns and County to Support Tenants' Rights

Over the last two years, Orange County Justice United has been working with renters to address discrimination and wrongs they have faced as tenants. These efforts spurred Justice United to work with renters in our community and the UNC Civil Law Clinic to develop the Declaration of Tenants' Rights and Responsibilities. The document, available in both English and Spanish, outlines renters' rights based on state statutes. 

Justice United and renters from our community have asked the Towns of Carrboro and Chapel Hill and Orange County to endorse this Declaration and help to distribute it to all tenants in their municipalities. More details can be found in this article in the Chapel Hill News. 

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'Luxury' Changes Coming to University Mall

It was just announced this morning that big changes are coming to the University Mall (no more Dillards sadly - where will I buy my ladies underpinnings...) and a 13-screen, $16/movie ticket high-end movie theater instead. More details are here. So, what do you think? Do we need another movie theater when we already have 4 first-run movie theaters within a 15-minute drive? How about a high-end one with dining featuring a $9.75 mini-cheeseburger?
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Rosemary Imagined Process - Next Steps

The Rosemary Imagined Neighborhood Project Team, which is helping guide the process for the Town of Chapel Hill and the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, met again on November 1, 2013 to discuss next steps for the development of a Rosemary Street Concept. We were given a summary of the feedback that has been garnered from the process so far.
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Eliminate Racial Inequity in Student Discipline in Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools

On June 20th a hearing was held at a Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education meeting about the need to address racial inequities in how students are disciplined. As we gear up for another school year, I hope that efforts continue to be made to eliminate these inequities. Some activities have already begun. More and more of our neighbors are attending Undoing/Anti-Racism/Dismantling Racism workshops, and the CHCCS this summer held one of these workshops specifically for students and another that many staff attended. (Workshops will be held in the fall and are open to the public. For more information: Undoing Racism/Racial Equity Workshops in Chapel Hill; Dismantling Racism Workshops in Durham.)

A number of folks spoke at that June 20th hearing, including public defender James Williams, who shared these remarks:

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Rogers Road Task Force Work Slowed by EPA Complaint

The Historic Rogers Road Neighborhood Task Force continues its work but has a new barrier to contend with that may preclude the Orange County Board of Commissioners from taking action. As reported in this story by Chapelboro, an EPA complaint filed by the Rogers-Eubanks Neighborhood Association in 2007 alleges the Orange County Planning and Inspections Department (OCPID) "intentionally discriminated on the basis of race by denying water and sewer service to the African American residents of the Rogers Road Community." The full letter from the EPA to the OCPID can be read here.

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Summary of Historic Rogers Road Task Force meeting, debut of the Talbert Plan

A full complement of Task Force members was in attendance at today's meeting of the Historic Rogers Road Task Force. The Task Force is nearing it's end and as Alderperson Michelle Johnson notes in her recent post, there is a lot on the line. Most task force members came to the meeting expecting to talk about two options: annexation of the Eubanks-Rogers Road Neighborhood or development of an Extra-territorial Jurisdiction (ETJ). Instead, Orange County Assistant Manager Michael Talbert proposed a third alternative that I'll call the Hybrid 77% Plan (but some at the meeting jokingly called the Talbert Plan).

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Municipal Election Filing Nears: Potential Candidates for Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools Board of Education

As Travis notes in his post on the upcoming election for Chapel Hill Town Council, the filing period to run for the Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools Board of Education also begins on July 5th.

Three incumbents are up for re-election: James Barrett, Michelle Brownstein, and Greg McElveen

James Barrett was elected to a two-year seat in 2011. He intends to run for re-election.

Michelle Brownstein was first elected to the CHCCS Board in 2009. She is currently Board Chair. She also intends to run for re-election.

Greg McElveen was appointed to fill Pam Hemminger's seat when Pam was elected to the Orange County Board of County Commissioners in 2008. He was elected to the seat in 2009. Greg will not be seeking re-election.

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