Movement on the Transfer Station

In a good example of both thoughtful leadership and why elected officials should use blogs, County Commissioner Mike Nelson recently posted his response to the local Democratic Party's resolution in support of the Rogers Road neighborhood and against siting a waste transfer station on Eubanks.

Here's an excerpt:

While the actual transfer station itself is not a dump, it does attract the stigma of a dump and has the unmistakable stench of environmental racism. The responsible course of action is to seek an alternative solution.

Additionally, it must be acknowledged that the manner in which the search was handled was flawed. By not conducting a thorough and transparent search, the BoCC reinforced the community's fears. This was a mistake; we can, and should, do better here in Orange County.
- Leading from the Left: Waste Transfer Station

Well put! I hope the entire board of commissioners will show their commitment to justice in Orange County by re-opening the search process and doing it right this time.

Issues: 

Total votes: 102

Comments

I think some of the other commissioners would consider re-opening the search, but it takes a lot for politicians to swallow their pride. We have to make it easier for them, or at least make it too hard to NOT do it.

In what way will the transfer station not be clean? My understanding is that trash will exit almost as soon as it arrives and will not remain overnight in any case.

Mike Nelson told us that when he visited the Greensboro transfer station he was surprised how clean and it was, with no odor, even inside.

Now, of course, there are other issues, increased traffic on Eubanks, odor from trucks as they pass by, possibility of things falling off of them if they aren't tarped (which isn't an issue with the town trucks), noise. These are legit issues, which a good reason to look for another site, BUT all of those could be dealt with, for example, by imposing fines on those who aren't tarped, stationing a police officer on Rogers to monitor that and speed of trucks, etc.

We need a rational discussion about this, Dave, and your demogouging of it doesn't help, in my opinion.

Will, the real question is now will he put it on the BOCC agenda for the next meeting.

Some people seem angry that I was saying please
when they wanted me to say 'damn it.' But, in my experience, insults are not usually the best way to persuade people.

Well- I am glad that Mike has chosen to revisit the issue. I appreciate your efforts too Mark.

Let's hope this issue will pick up enough steam to move forward. It's still a huge uphill climb.

I am glad that Mike wants to take another look and I do hope another site can be found without breaking the bank, so to speak.

But once again, the OCDP resolution did not say we were "against Eubanks." It simply asked the commissioners to take another look. It seems to me most on the executive committee realize that Eubanks still could emerge as the best site for the transfer station.

To me, saying we should take the best site there is, except for Rogers Road folks objections (which are real and serious and important) off the table is just not responsible.

In my opinion, this issue cannot simply be decided based on what the Rogers Road community wants, legit as they may be, this is an issue that effects every single person in this county.

Here is the complete text of the resolution passed by the OCDP:

RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF
THE ROGERS ROAD COMMUNITY

BE IT RESOLVED that the Orange County Democratic Party recognizes the siting of the waste transfer station adjacent to the landfill was made over the objections of the Rogers Road Community that has already endured the negative impacts of nearby solid waste facilities for 35 years; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Orange County Democratic Party asks the Orange County Board of Commissioners to reconsider its earlier decision to site the waste transfer station adjacent to the Rogers Road community, which has already borne more than its share of the burden of waste disposal, and to conduct a thorough public search for an alternative site; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Orange County Democratic Party supports the Rogers Road community in its requests to the several local governments and agencies for the amenities being brought forward by the Historic Rogers Road Community Enhancement Plan Development and Monitoring Task Force.

Paul, Taking Eubanks Road off the table is the only right thing to do.

A number of your posts have been disturbing including your oxymoron phrase of "clean transfer station". That one was classical "Rovian". The Bush administration does it all the time. Your last post on the the OCDP thread was in major variance with the Jack Sanders speech to the Chapel Hill Town Council. However I am sure you will find a way to spin it differently.

I have figured out we have very different value systems. Therefore you can minimize the injustice and boil it down to dollar figures. I can not. You can ignore history. You can propose buying everyone out. You can blame the victim by asking why Neloa Jones built a new house on her land (You did not know it was Neloa). To my value system that was like blaming rape on the one who was raped.

Your right that this issue effects every member of the county. This level and depth of injustice has a way of doing just that. It diminishes all of us. But you are in a very different place.

I will predict that if the BOCC persists on continuing with Eubanks, the costs are going to be greater that currently imagined. In my opinion the Rogers Road community is completely committed to stopping it. They have already filed a DOJ complaint. I think that this is just the beginning. Orange county could end up with a horrendous black eye that is seen by the entire nation. There are costs that can not easily be measured in dollar figures.

Paul and David, may I suggest that you resolve yourselves to disagree about this?

Paul, I may be passionate but I am not appealing to peoples prejudices. Understanding the values of those holding different opinions is part of the equation of any discussion. It is apparent we hold different values and therefore weight the factors of this issue very differently. That is rational. Maybe a different way to put it is we have a different set of premises that lead us to very different conclusions and positions. And passion has its place.

I got a very different impression of the transfer station from other visitors including members of the community and it was anything but clean or odor free. Neither of us was there so our information is all hearsay.

The Rogers Road community from, my perspective, has earned the right to impose their will on this issue on the rest of the county. They are the only ones who can legitimize the siting of the transfer station on Eubanks. Another way to put it is that in this case the minority rights trumps majority rule.

You and I have no standing. As I said before, I will bow to the will of that community and any decision they make. That is rational position because I value history and justice over the pain and inconvenience this causes the rest of the county.

Of course I understand why that might not be helpful to anyone outside the Rogers Road neighborhood looking for or willing to accept a different outcome.

Ruby, I think I just did.

I have reached no "conclusion" about this.

I'm not saying it MUST be Eubanks, I'm just saying it MIGHT be.

If the BOCC does reconsider this and I think there is a good chance they will, I hope they take a new look at the entire solid waste removal issue, not just where to site a transfer station.

Particularly, I would like to see them reopen the search for a landfill in this county, which would very likely be in northern Orange (where I live, by the way). We also need to become even more agressive at recycling and waste reduction; even though we've done a pretty good job at it so far, we could do more. I've seen some good ideas posted here about that, Will Raymond has some good suggestions, Mark Marcoplos does too and I'm sure the SWAB board and the solid waste staff does too.

BUT, we would still need a transfer station because 1) it isn't likely a landfill could be open by 2011 when the present one is full and 2) even when it is open, the towns trucks are just too old and fuel inefficient to get all the way to a northern Orange landfill, which is likely to be at the very northern edge of the county in order to keep it away from densely populated areas.

By the way, Person county is also having landfill issues. Could we possibly talk with them?

Paul- I don't know if you realize this or not (it isn't something that is often mentioned), but the Eubanks site is about half the size the EPA guidelines recommend for a transfer station site. In other words- were one following the guidelines, one would probably not even include sites that small in the search.

That also means that although it appears it will all fit, there will be no room for the usual accepted amenities- like a deep setback and a nice cover of trees. It means that a 40 foot tall brick building will be remarkably close to the road, as will a lot of hard surfaces for driving and parking of large trucks.

I am with Dave- I believe that the Rogers Road community has earned the right to demand not to have any new garbage/recycling facilities placed in the area. They have done their part (and will continue with many of the facilities remaining in the area). It is time for somewhere else in our large county to step up and accept that they too bear responsibility in dealing with our solid waste.

Linda, the EPA issue was noted before (I have a link on my site to their guidelines) but, if we're going to be really innovative here, we need to go beyond the "standard" footprint. First, whether we need a transfer site or not might still be in-play. Though I think the time window for finding a landfill site(s?) and constructing a facility is tight, at least based on the current estimates for landfill closure, it might be possible to keep our tarsh local.

Whatever facility we construct, we need to think about room to site secondary services - like privately managed specialized recycling services, bio-fuel production, etc. - to leverage the facility's utility (and possibly produce a revenue stream).

I appreciate both Mike opening the discussion once again at the BOCC level and 'blogging about his concerns. That said, I'd love to see him open up comments on his website ;-)

How many of you were around when the County considered a new landfill site locally?

I was and have NO DESIRE to go through that again. I would suggest that those of you who want to re-open the landfill search go and look at the committee's report or ask Mr. Wilson who was the staff person in charge of the committee. Don't be surprised if you come away with the idea that members were threated. The BOCC sure ducked alot of heat when they appointed those volunteer citizens to that committee. If you continue to read how this issue was resolved to no landfill in this county you will also see that working with other counties were discussed. I think the most disappointing close minded attitude was that digging a hole and burying our trash was the only way to go and we still have elected members in this County who believe that.

Patrick, I agree it would be a tough and probably dangerous sell. I do think we can do more than just bury our heads in the landfill, though. A regional facility might be attractive if we can coordinate a deal in a reasonable time-frame. There are more reuse/recycle opportunities for diverting part of the waste stream than we had last go - those alternative waste management strategies should get a full airing. I believe that the "center of gravity" - even given Carolina North - will shift North over the next decades and that our plans should account for that possibility.

I do agree with David, no time like the present to start. I hope Mike puts it on the agenda.

What would put on the agenda? Shouldn't they ask Solid Waste and/or the SWAB board to take another look and report back in say, 60 days?

Good point Paul - I was thinking putting both the decision and the process used to make that decision back into consideration. The SWAB, with no further instructions, might arrive right back on Eubanks. So, what process is used to construct the new process? Does Mike propose a new citizen task force or a new staff recommendation or ask his fellow colleagues to draft more specific guidelines for the SWAB?

Being that I am process ignorant.. Can the BOCC direct the SWAB without first getting it on the agenda and coming to a consensus about what direction to give to the SWAB?

I also believe they should change the leadership of the SWAB. Paul Sasserman played the key role in avoiding a search.

I would think the BOCC members could ask Gayle Wilson to have his staff identify some alternate sites that they could vet first privately and then come up with a "short list" of say, three possible other sites, the merits of which could then be debated publically, with Eubanks still being a possibilty.

And Dave, his name is Jan Sassaman, not Paul Sasserman.

Paul, thanks for the spelling correction. Spell check for me, was on of the greatest pieces of software ever devised.

However, identifying a few alternative sites is not a process. A formal set of criteria needs to be put in place and made public. The process itself needs to be documented and made public. A very thorough site search needs to be conducted with Eubanks of the table. (yeah I know.. we disagree). The whole process needs to be out in the open and professional and not a few private words to the SWAB. When a decision is delivered on a new site for the transfer station it needs to be absolutely fairly done and documented. It should withstand an EPA and DOJ audit and an audit by the people. Greensboro did it right. They would be glad to share what they did. Greensboro takes pride in it. Orange County needs to do the same.

I wonder if the Greensboro leadership has had an opportunity to share their pride with the community that now hosts their trash. In fact, I wonder if they have even traveled there at all.

Mark, Greensboro actually has an industrial zone. That is where the transfer station is located.

Dave, I don't want to speak for Mark, but I'm pretty sure he meant the community that has the landfill and gets the trash from the Greensboro station.

Good question. Anyone know?

Paul, If you are right, then that goes to the questions of should the trash leave the local area and if the answer is no (which I agree with) then how does one site the landfill? It is a very valid issue, much discussed, but not the one currently on the table. Will Raymond has some great ideas.

That is very different than, once the decision is made to construct a transfer station, what is the appropriate process? Greensboro got it right and Orange County has so far managed to get it all wrong. But there is still time to do it correctly. My whole point is that a successful process does not have to be invented. It has already been done. I am assuming we do not have the "not invented here" syndrome.

There is a way forward.

Could "the way forward" include a transfer station at Eubanks and a landfill in northern Orange?

Paul, you know my answer the that question.

Oops, My mind and fingers were out of synch.

Paul, You know my answer to that question.

 

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