This Week in Orange Politics: March 2-8

OP Editors's picture

 

Despite a condensed schedule due to today’s weather, it will be a busy week in Orange County. Rogers Road will be the agenda for both the Carrboro Board of Alderpersons and the County Commission. While the Orange School Board Hillsborough Commissioners take a break, the Chapel Hill Town Council will focus on Ephesus-Fordham and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board considers its budget and the designation of over- and under-crowded schools.

Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project Gets Federal Go Ahead

Molly De Marco's picture

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. 

Tracing the Trading Path

Mark Chilton's picture

Long before European settlers came here, Native Americans lived in the area that is now Orange County. Native Americans created a prominent village on the banks of the Eno River—centuries before the place came to be called Hillsborough. Through the village of the Occaneechis ran a well-established path—a path which the Europeans called the Indian Trading Path, the Catawba Path, the Old Trading Path, or the Western Trading Road. In its full extent, the Trading Path ran from the vicinity of Petersburg, VA, to Mobile, AL.

This Week in Orange Politics: February 24-March 2

OP Editors's picture

Candidate filing closes this Friday, so don’t forget to join us Friday night at Steel String Brewing in Carrboro to meet candidates in this year's elections at our Candidate Coming Out Party.

In terms of the county’s public bodies, the national issues of Medicaid expansion and the Affordable Care Act will come before the Chapel Hill Town Council and Orange County School Board, while Carrboro and the County Commissioners will both hold hearings on their respective land use ordinances.

 

Medicaid Expansion Resolution at Town Council, Monday, 2/24

On Monday, 2/24, the Chapel Hill Town Council will debate on passing a resolution calling upon the State Legislature and the Governor to expand Medicaid. This is an opportunity, under the Affordable Care Act, to enroll up to 500,000 uninsured adults in our state whose income is below 138% of the Federal Poverty Line.  Similar resolutions have been past by the Durham City Council and the Orange County Board of Commissioners.

UNC Students Launch Petition Against Town Housing Ordinance

Travis Crayton's picture

UNC students have launched a petition against the Town of Chapel Hill's housing ordinance prohibiting more than four unrelated people from living in the same house.

The petition is an initiative of outgoing student body president Christy Lambden. The Lambden Administration is circulating the following blurb to students concerning the petition:

As many of you know in the past year many students have been evicted from their homes for violating The Town of Chapel Hill’s Occupancy Ordinance. This Ordinance states that no more that four unrelated persons can co-inhabit the same single-dwelling residence. We in the Executive Branch of Student Government are asking for your support in signing our petition to The Town of Chapel Hill. We ask that you please circulate this to the members of your respective organizations. Stand with Student Government, fight for students and Don’t Shut the Door on Four.

http://bit.ly/M7O4sU

Also, if you have opinions or experiences with the Ordinance, please let us know at: https://neighborland.com/ideas/chapel-hill-to-hear-people-s-experien. Signing up is very easy and can be done through your Facebook account!

Thanks for your support,

The Lambden Administration

In the fall, there were reports about students being kicked out of their homes for violating the ordinance. This petition appears to be a response to those actions.

However, not all students are supportive of repealing the ordinance. A cursory glance at the Neighborland page emailed out (and seeing intense discussion on many of my friends' Facebook pages) indicates that this is a multidimensional issue that our community continues to struggle with, students fully included.  

Carrboro, Chapel Hill may get Google Fiber

Travis Crayton's picture

Google just announced that it's inviting 34 cities to "explore what it would take to bring them Google Fiber." Carrboro and Chapel Hill are among those 34 cities as a part of the Raleigh-Durham metropolitan area. Other area cities invited as part of the metro area include Cary, Durham, Garner, Morrisville, and Raleigh.

Google Fiber is the next generation of Internet access — Internet that is up to 100 times faster that current basic broadband access.

From Google's official blog:

We aim to provide updates by the end of the year about which cities will be getting Google Fiber. Between now and then, we’ll work closely with each city’s leaders on a joint planning process that will not only map out a Google Fiber network in detail, but also assess what unique local challenges we might face. These are such big jobs that advance planning goes a long way toward helping us stick to schedules and minimize disruption for residents.

We’re going to work on a detailed study of local factors that could affect construction, like topography (e.g., hills, flood zones), housing density and the condition of local infrastructure. Meanwhile, cities will complete a checklist of items that will help them get ready for a project of this scale and speed. For example, they’ll provide us with maps of existing conduit, water, gas and electricity lines so that we can plan where to place fiber. They’ll also help us find ways to access existing infrastructure—like utility poles—so we don’t unnecessarily dig up streets or have to put up a new pole next to an existing one.

You can read more about what could potentially be coming to Carrboro and Chapel Hill at Google Fiber's website.

This Week in Orange Politics: February 17-23

OP Editors's picture

It's a quieter week in local government this week. In Carrboro, the Board of Aldermen will look at potential changes to towing regulations while the Town Council in Chapel Hill will open a public hearing on changes to the Land Use Management Ordinance and the County Commissioners will discuss whether to approve the Operations Agreement for the Rogers Road Community Center. Both school boards and the Hillsborough Town Board have the week off.

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