Landfill neighbors have had enough

This is an issue I've been wanting to write about for a while, but it's been hard to start. I have been a supporter of the Rogers Road neighbors for 10-15 years. It may have been as far back as my college days, when I wrote my senior thesis on environmental racism, that I first met Rev. Robert Campbell and learned about the repeated violations of the local governments' promise to the residents of this historic African-American neighborhood.

As was thoroughly documented in a recent Chapel Hill News editorial by Aarne Veslind, our current landfill on Eubanks Road was built in 1972 with assurances to the neighbors that it would only operate for a fixed period of time and that no additional waste management facilities would be located in the neighborhood. Guess what happened?

Over the next 30 years, the landfill has repeatedly grown with new services and expanded dumping areas. The residents of Rogers Road have dealt with everything from speeding dumptrucks to putrid smells, and from carrion birds to contaminated wells. They still have not received public water and sewer service (in spite of the fact that newer affluent neighborhoods surrounding them do), and may have to pay high hook-up fees to OWASA if they do get to connect.

Yet still the County has been unable (or unwilling) to find a single other location for our growing waste management needs. After many searches for a new landfill site that only ever seemed to end up back on Rogers Road, the Commissioners have now decided to export our trash to some other unlucky community.

That means building a transfer station where local garbage trucks can dump trash into bigger, long-distance trucks that will haul it out of the county.

The Solid Waste Advisory Board has recommended building the transfer station on the current landfill site on Eubanks Road. The county already owns the land, state regulators know the site, and it would be difficult to put it anywhere else in the county, the board says.

Despite the advisory board's recommendations, the commissioners have been reluctant to burden the Rogers Road community with several more decades of living near a garbage facility. The current landfill was built in 1972.

"I have real concerns about evoking another 25 years of this experience on people who have had [the landfill] 30 years," Commissioner Moses Carey said at an October meeting when this was discussed. "I'm sure there are going to be people who have vivid memories of us promising not to do this again."
- | County to discuss options with landfill neighbors, 1/17/07



The transfer station would also require a rezoning from Chapel Hill (as I read their zoning chart). That would be an additional level of scrutiny.



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