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



This problem has compounded over the years. The commissioners during the 91-92 landfill search - including Moses Carey - had an opportunity to creatively and responsibly institute a plan for us to handle our own waste. Despite continued requests that an integrated approach be taken that considered waste reduction strategies and the possibility of two small landill & recycling operations, the commissioners would not allow waste reduction to be part of the discussion. So the incredibly over-sized mega-sites that were targeted were bound to fail, as they predictably did.

It was astounding to those of us on the Citizen's Landfill Council (a grassroots group composed of representatives from every targeted landfill site), that the very facet of the problem (waste reduction) that offered us a way out of the site search morass, was barred from official consideration.

Now we are in a no-win situation. Some poor losers somewhere get our garbage. And the Eubanks Road location continues to create community tension.

This may be the biggest policy failure in Orange County history.

If you're interested in what the Rogers Rd. neighbors have said recently on the subject, I've posted video snippets here and here.

First disclosure: My family lives in the Carrboro NE Transition Area, close to Eubanks Road. That means we have a stake in this issue as well as the long-suffering African-American community on Rogers Road. I would argue that all of us have a stake in this discussion if we take a long term view of the northern growth of our community.

The moral/ethical dimensions of this issue are obvious. One neighbor, at recent Carrboro Town Council Meeting, made a great point by saying we needed to be as motivated to protest by this at least in equal measure with the dancing man controversy that surrounded the area outside Weaver Market. I hope this thread gets at least as much action as the panhandling issue downtown which many see as a racial issue. The promises made and not kept to the Rogers Road community are well documented.

Ironically the coming of up scale development (mostly white) in this N. E. region could be decisive in preventing the transfer station. With 2 new schools coming to the Eubanks Road area, the building of the massive Chapel Hill Operations Center, a UPS faculty, other planned business development combined with housing development make this a “perfect storm” for traffic congestion and hazard. Oh…. Lets not forget the county park planned for the area across from the CH Operations Center on Mill House Road or the Twin Creeks Park planned near the new schools just off Eubanks.

The Carrboro Town Council in their last meeting was asked to vote on their feelings on this issue. That was delayed in order for them to educate themselves on a transfer station.
The suggestion to visit Greensboro's new; state of art facility seems logical.

However one only needs to Google the address at 6310 Brunt Poplar Road to understand that seeing the facility is only part of understanding its impact. Greensboro's facility is in an industrial park with immediate access to I-40. I submit that Eubanks Road with the traffic spawned by the above mentioned growth in our community is not the place to add tractor-trailers filled with trash to the mix. What goes on outside the facility in terms of traffic and hazard is an equal if not greater issue to Carrboro and Chapel Hill.

The issue for some is: if not here where? To this group, which I think includes most county commissioners, I say lets take long look before we site the waste transfer station in a high growth urban area. Many officials look at $$$. The cost of a dangerous, congested roadway will be greater in the long term. We need to pay the price to locate a transfer station in a rural setting with short access to the interstate.

To those who lament our community's lack of waste reduction I join that chorus. However the issue before us today is the continuing use of the Eubanks area as a waste disposal process site. It is unfair to the African – American community of Rogers Road and it is a dangerous, ill-advised action for our community and county leaders to endorse.

Mark's comments are right on the money. I was involved in those discussions in the early 90s and was shocked by the ease with which elected officials in the Landfill Owners Group were happy to dump our trash "somewhere else" (i.e., transfer out of county) in the future.

This is a moral issue. In fact, I would go so far as to argue that there should be a law in North Carolina against shipping trash outside of your own county. Period.

And as to the Eubanks Road site, Steve Peck nails it. That too is a moral issue.

These decisions will be THE litmus test for whether the so-called progressive political movement in Orange County is real - or just wishful thinking from a bunch of has-been hippies.

I'm ready to help make it real.

I won't lift a finger to facilitate shipping our waste out-of-county to someplace else.

In fact, I would go so far as to argue that there should be a law in North Carolina against shipping trash outside of your own county. Period.

I'd agree completely if it weren't for Dare and Carteret counties, whose rather unique geographical problems lend me to believe they ought not be burying their trash in the quickly-disappearing thin strips of sand which protect our coast from the onslaught of the next huge hurricane global warming is going to throw at us.

That said, a real solution here is going to involve more than just finding a new group of people to dump our waste next to and then shout NIMBY at them when they complain about being denied the same human health standards we give to everyone else. I was surprised that Carrboro's discussion of a pay as you throw got so little discussion here on OP. What source-based alternatives are we looking at as a county?

What are we doing to make recycling more attractive and easier? I'd like to see our garbage collection services just flat-out refuse to take plastics, glass, or aluminum that has not been properly sorted out. The way we've made blue boxes for residential recycling is great, let's take the same program and offer compost tumblers to those who want them. A little innovation could go a long way to drastically reducing our garbage output.

We've also got a major education hurdle to overcome - it took me quite some time and making myself a pretty comprehensive cheatsheet before I learned what was and was not accepted for recycling here - for our large student and transient populations, chances are it's not the same as what was accepted the last place you lived.

Thinking outside of the box may cost a little more money, especially on the short term. But it's a cost I'd be willing to pay to see real progress made towards a solution which actually involved solving the problem rather than just finding a new hunk of land to dump the problem on.

As one of the people who voted on the SWAB recommendation, I feel a certain amount of explanation is in order.

As stated very well by Mark- we all know there is no present plan to even try to site a new landfill within the county, although that would be the moral and sustainble option. It was obvious that the county needed to move forward with building a transfer station. At the time that the SWAB vote was made- last August- there was exactly this one site up for discussion. The land available on Eubanks was shown to be adequate to fit a transfer station. It was obvious that planning had to begin soon, or else come 2010 we'd all be sitting there with piles of garbage on our lawns with no place to go.

The recommendation was made based on the availability of exactly one site. That, and the memory of how the last landfill search went influenced my vote. In my mind the bitter liklihood was that the transfer station would most likely be sited on Eubanks no matter how many other sites were available, and it seemed prudent at the time to suggest that given time constraints in the real world that it might be time to get moving on building it.

The SWAB recommendation cannot be taken to recommend one site over another, as only the Eubanks site had been considered when making the recommendation. I fear that the recommendation will be used to imply that we recommend Eubanks over any other site, but the truth of the matter is that we only had one site up for discussion when that recommendation was made.

Dare County actually does have their own landfill. It's west of Manteo and a long truck from the barrier islands. But Dare County is a bioregional distortion.

We should have the ability locally to tax stupid packaging & ridiculous disposables.

It's a little known fact that a huge part of the recycling/landfill diversion data that Orange County publicizes actually resulted when construiction waste was banned from the landfill. A very large percentage of it was then shipped to out-of-county landfills by such upstanding corporate citizens as BFI & Waste Management Inc. (one of them is now Allied Waste). This appeared on the books as a tremendous waste recudtion at the landfill, but it didn't mean anything in terms of our waste generation.

Maybe the Chamber of Commerce as the newly self-appointed champion of sustainability will lead the business community to support dealing with our waste locally instead of shipping it out of sight.

I agree we should:

1. Find creative ways to reduce waste.

2. Find a process and a site in Orange County to dispose of the waste we create.

However the issue here is the transfer station. If we want to debate the ethical grounds for that decision we should show be in front of the county commissioners and our community leaders every chance we get. However the decision to not site a waste disposal site in the county appears to be made. Without a major change in direction we will have a transfer station in Orange County.

So let us examine our options as a community. We can push our leaders to find a site in our county. This is a politically charged issue that they want to avoid. I submit we are very late to the dance on this issue.

We can continue to have discussions about reducing waste and not shipping it to others back yards. However the issue before us is locating of the transfer station on Eubanks Road ,as the county commissioners with tacit agreement from Chapel Hill and Carrboro, have made their decision to build a transfer station.

Good point, Steve. (Note to self: Stay focused.)

Surely there's a list of considered-but-rejected sites somewhere, no?

Thank you Steve focusing us on the core issue. There are many fair points on the macro view on what to do with our waste. However, regardless of the solution, our waste should no longer be placed in the back yards of the Rogers Road Community.

Alderman Broun spoke most eloquently, concisely and right on point about this issue. She pointed out that public works projects with large negative impacts almost always end up inside of or next to lower economic scale neighborhoods which normally turn out to be Black or Hispanic. She was ready to vote and expressed frustration with the rest of the board.

Imagine if you would if the recommended site of the transfer station was adjacent to Meadowmont, a large upscale, mostly white community where a townhouse can cost you $800,000. The uproar would be huge, the hearings and board meetings would be packed and lawyers would be involved due to the deeper pockets of residents.

But the Rogers Road Community is a wonderful, small, cohesive historically Black neighborhood at the lower end of the economic scale. Unlike the activities in front of Weaver Street Market or on Franklin Street, this neighborhood is not visible to the community at large. Out of sight out of mind I fear applies.

As each of us including each of our elected leaders take out our garbage, we need to keep in mind that it this garbage that is trucked and dumped into the back yards of those on Rogers Road and has been for 34 years. It is the aromas of our garbage as it ripens that enter the living rooms and bedrooms of these residents. This issue is personal and we have a personal responsibility.

We individually and collectively owe the Rogers Road community a huge debt of gratitude. The least we can do is to never again locate any waste facility including this transfer station any where near this neighborhood. This is a moral imperative there is no set of facts or justification to do otherwise.

David Richter

What is our moral obligation for waste disposal (dare I ask for a sustainable solution?)? Much of the waste we generate is composed of goods from outside of the county. Should some of that material go back to where it came from (forget for the moment the financial and environmental costs for this additional transportation)? Buying goods in recyclable packaging helps but even that is shipped elsewhere for processing (I think). We do share some of the responsibility for creating demand for non-renewable materials.

Should we dump it into the ground within Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Hillsborough or the county? Maybe each neighborhood should dispose of its own trash, OK, maybe not. What's significant about county borders? And I don't think traffic is any more of an issue on Eubanks road or anywhere else in the county. Somebody will be impacted no matter where the transfer site is located.

Should we burn the trash? Assume we can do it cleanly, capture CO2, generate energy and collect combustion products. We then need to do something with the CO2 and byproducts. It will probable still put pollution into the air which will be carried to other counties.

Should we demand only recyclable materials? That is possible for those who can afford it (plastic is cheap and not all of it is recyclable). No more pizza delivered in those inexpensive cardboard boxes- the boxes are not recycled. Also a problem for construction materials as previously indicated.

Maybe I should have taken James' s advice and stayed focused...

I agree with Marc. Carrboro needs to deal with its trash, as does Chapel Hill, and not dump it on Orange county. That would be a truly equitable solution. One can always dream of such things.

I think we are all disappointed that a new landfill has not been sited in this county, but at this point, I'm pretty sure it's too late to pursue anything other than the transfer station. Building a new landfill, even if we found a site, would take longer than the remaining life of the current site. And placing the transfer station farther out away from Chapel Hill and Carrboro, the major waste production areas within the county, has its own environmental and financial costs. Let's face it, there is no good solution to this mess.

But...if I were queen, I would plan for a very small transfer station and immediately begin putting together a regional waste-to-energy facility that would dispose of solid waste, construction waste, and biosolids from wastewater treatment.

And if we were really creative, we could move the Lincoln Center ceramics studio to that facility and use the captured energy to run the kilns and pottery wheels for free. :)

For those of you who propose finding a proper site for a transfer station so that it does not impact the Rogers Raod area, I suggest that to be consistent you must make sure that the destination for the trash that leaves our communities is not in a community that is being taken advantage of by the kingpins of our society.

The "Kingpins of Society" put the landfill next to a historically African-American neighborhood in 1972.

Consistency would be for leaders and citizens to live up to promises made to that community.

Consistency would be to not rail about traffic and congestion and talk about walkable neigbhorhoods and to oppose this site for the transfer station.

If the argument keeping waste disposal process on Eubanks to punish all we city folk for creating so much trash or it is the easiest solution to a complex problem I reject those completely.

Eubank Road is now a vital roadway in our communities future. It is surrounded by existing and future neighborhoods, parks, businesses and schools. Placing a transfer station on that road will be wrong for our community.

I fear this time the decision for the transfer station on Eubanks will not be made solely by the elite of society but de facto by all of us.

Let's combine waste disposal and energy generation. A UNC, towns, county effort to burn waste, and landfill gas to generate energy. Faculty at UNC (And NCSU/Duke) can help develop means to capture CO2 and research ways to produce materials from the combustion waste and filtered exhaust. Algae can be used to capture CO2 and then processed to produce biodiesel. Local feedstock crops can be grown or added to existing crops to promote county farms and produce veggie oil and cellulose for biodiesel and ethanol. Produce the fuel in OC and load it on pumps in a gas station near 40 and 85. You've increased the tax base, improved the local economy, reduced waste and dependence on out of county and out of state (not to mention out of country) energy. Other local cellulose can be developed- trees, yard waste, even Kudzu. :) Add in solar energy (thermal or PVC), some wind energy, onsite water reclemation, storm water recycling, optimize natural light, etc. Make it part of the UNC system and both school districts and the technical community college campus to provide educational opportunities and real world training.

Can it be done economically? I wonder if the cost for transporting waste and importing energy were factored in and an allowance made for public education (grants and student training) how far off it would be...

I like it.

Don't forget the biosolids from wastewater treatment Marc.

Marc, a few folks, myself included, suggested a few years ago doing methane recovery at the landfill. We can either "distill" it for methanol to drive other equipment or use it directly. The issue, of course, is to try to keep the carbon release down.

Mike Nelson, I believe (though I haven't checked in recently), has been driving this issue forward through the BOC.

UNC suggested a similar program for the old 30 acre landfill at HWA.

On the landfill, I understand the moral dimension of cleaning up your own mess but have a few questions for those more knowlegable.

Are there any landfill facilities that are being evaluated that do a better job of reprocessing trash than ours?

I'm wondering if a case can be made for specializing in particular types of trash handling, say e-trash, and becoming a "center of excellence" for managing a particular waste flow in exchange for another facility taking another type of waste of our hands.

Is there such a thing as efficiency of scale that justifies central multi-county (regional) landfills in NC? How does one calculate the balance between energy used transporting vs. inefficiencies of scale?

I googled a number of references justifying regionals in NY and elsewhere on a the efficiency of scale argument. Not a lot on exchanging one type of garbage - say 1 unit of hazardous e-trash per 10 units of something else.

Any references appreciated.

Finally, how did the BOC discussion go? Any progress?

I have to look more into biosolids to see how it could be integrated (or done on its own) but definitely use it! As long as there are some bread and butter energy sources - solar, local crops, methane, solid and biosolid waste - other more experimental sources can be developed. Hydrogen production can be coupled with fuel cell development work. There would be a place for animal waste as well. Also, animal feed could be created from ethanol production.

I posted multiple biomass references on STP Marc, but I forgot to include this one:

Will--Alice Gordon is the commissioner who was pushing methane capture and Carolyn Efland was driving UNC to pursue it. But a consultants report came back saying there wasn't sufficient methane available to justify the costs of construction. I suspect, but don't know for sure, that lack of methane is the price we pay for having a well-built, tight landfill.

I didn't hear of Mike Nelson's interest in landfill methane. I hear some at UNC are considering as part of Carolina North.

Interesting idea- exchange waste with neighboring counties. I think a distance of ~50 miles has been a parameter to define local biofuel distribution. More than that and transportation energy costs outwiegh the biofuel benefit. Not sure about the distance but it's relatively short, unlike the length of gasoline pipelines.

Good ideas Marc. I always appreciate hearing things that would help tackle a problem holistically. Maybe we wouldn't have so many equity issues in the first place if we were willing to go for the root of the problem. It's no different than the issues around development in and around Northside. If we're going talk about socieconomic inequality and latent racism in our community, let's talk about socieconomic inequality and latent racism in our community, not sidestep by the discussion and use the ideas to poke and pry at an otherwise commendable addition to our downtown.

I wonder sometimes if ten or twenty years from now we're going to be squabbling over whose creek to pull the water out of to put out the fires the rioters are starting.

But the pull my discussion back to garbage, as I guess I ought to do... I don't think it would be very responsible of our leaders to look for only one solution. We don't just need a solution for five years out. We need a solution for tomorrow, and for five years out, and for a hundred years out, and I hope the commissioners have the foresight to make these solutions work together.

And, to add to Terri's comment and link about using waste energy for kilns and potting wheels, let me add an obligatory link to UNC Asheville who are just that with their Craft Campus.

Thanks Terri, I should've known Alice was onboard. Wonder if using biomass to produce biofuels was considered?

This is kind of off the cuff after a long long day but....

Seems like we need some way to normalize and evaluate our options across the board - kind of a carbon credit approach - to determine a good (maybe not the best) course of action.

So, say for each 1,000 gal. of biofuels we produce from our own waste we get +1 point. For every ton of trash shipped out of county we get -10 points. Recovering even modest amounts of methane nets +2 points, for every ton of e-waste we process - whether produced locally or not - +10 points. Running a transfer station affecting Rogers Rd. community -100 points. Every 1000 gals. used to ship waste -2 points, etc. - you get the idea.

We're talking a values matrix that goes beyond simple trash management.

How do we assign values to different activities so we can make commensurate analysis?

In other words, is there a way to evaluate two wildly different solutions that "score" the same?

This kind of analysis is used elsewhere - could we use it here?


I remember that the issue of how much (or little) methane the landfill could generate came up when the Town Operations Center was being designed. Ed Harrison was pushing the designers to include potential connectivity to the landfill in order that we might utilize any available methane being generated but, as you mentioned, the idea fell by the wayside when the engineers said it wouldn't begin to justify the expense.

The methane capture idea has come up over and over throughout the years. Jim talked about last Fall. There was a LTE on it in June.

GeorgeC, I recall several discussions on about the overall costs vis-a-vis energy policy at the Mar. 2003 sustainabilit y forum but don't recall any real action on it by Harrison (other than asking about it). I do recall that it was in the context of piping it to the TOC.

I'd love to see the analysis. Was it the expense of piping it or the capture that made it infeasible? I know there's modestly priced reformation equipment that produces methanol or NPG on-site but don't recall staff evaluating that option.

Heck, Blair Pollock laid it out Mar. 15th, 2004

He noted the potential source of methane, which was now being vented from the landfill, and pointed out that this methane would be available for 20-25 years. Mr. Pollock recommended that the Town consider some sort of partnership with the landfill on developing a methane-to-natural gas facility for vehicles, hot water, and other uses. The landfill had been having difficulty finding a partner to take that methane, he said, stressing that such a quasi-industrial use seemed like a natural fit.

It's easy to ignore the methane blather from an amateur environmentalist and political outsider like myself but this was from Blair for gosh sakes. Isn't he the "go to" guy for this stuff?

I know we've had threads on OP where decentralized production - taking your opportunities where they show themselves - have been discussed. Micro-production - "chipping away at the problem" - should be a strategy we are constantly evaluating. In fairness, there was some fairly decent counter-arguments dealing with economies of scale.

Micro-production as a strategy does percolate up from the bottom. The folks and staff talking about the new bus shelters, for instance, have suggested on-site solar power.

So, instead of piping the gas off-site in a heroic effort to dual use it at the TOC was there ever a real discussion of producing reasonable quantities of gas equivalents economically? Again, it might've been seriously discussed and the notes just aren't online.

Going back through my notes and doing some Googling it's funny to note how many times March/April of election years that Council takes this up. We need a sustained ethic here on trying to grab each opportunity to reduce, reuse, rework - not stump opportunities. The ideas are out there - have been out there - we just need to integrate them into the warp-n-woof of public policy.

That's what Larry Shirley said at that 2003 forum (Ed attending) - and here we are 2007 - 4 years later and we still are futzing around or working counter, as demonstrated by some recent development approvals, to our best interests.

Know this is far afield from the initial discussion but the energy discussion kind of hit a sore spot. I've been doing some research on many of the integrated energy recovery/production proposals brought before Council over the years in context of their Lot #5 decision.

It is quite irksome how often (but not always) the exceedingly forward-looking , informed and invaluable input from our citizens - like Blair, Tom - on these issues has been ignored.

Why is it that our local government can't leverage their expertise?

I only remember that staff had done a follow-up on Ed's request to consider incorporating the ability to capture and pipe the methane over to the TOC into the design for the TOC. Whether this was presented at a TOC Committee meeting, another advisory board meeting or a Council meeting I can't recall. But the staff said that they had checked on the feasibility and determined that it would not be feasible. I assume the feasibility analysis included the cost of moving the methane down Eubanks and up Millhouse but I also remember that staff said that the amount of methane that was available was what really halted the discussion from going further.

And another reason NOT to locate the Transfer Station at Eubanks. Chapel Hill is on a fast track to approve a 50 unit single family home Habitat for Humanity development off Rogers Road. These homes will also have our dump in their back yards. (You wouldn't build $700,000 homes there would you?) These home are needed, but if our leaders have any integrity, the transfer station will go elsewhere and the dump will be closed for good over the next few years.

Article at the top of Chapel Hill Newspaper front page yesterday did little to fully the issues about a Eubanks Road Transfer Station but at least it gave (finally) front-page media attention to the issue.

The article did not discuss traffic or development and growth in the area.

Does anyone know where to find the number of waste disposal trucks and 18 wheeler haul away trucks will be entering and exiting the Transfer Station on a daily basis??? The numbers I have heard seem very low to me.

The comments Councilwoman Haven-O'Donnell in the article were of the “out of sight, out of mind “ school of thought. My fear of the "tour" was that the members would only look at what went on inside the Transfer Station. I will be interested to hear more of her and others views about the Transfer Station in light of the "tour".

Please go to the Greensboro Transfer site at 6310 Brunt Polar Road:

Then look at Eubanks Road. The area in which the Transfer Station is sited and the immediate access to I40 are totally different from the Eubanks Road site. The Greensboro Station is in a heavy industrial area and is less that a block to the I40.

On Eubanks the trucks will compete with local traffic going to schools, parks and work that will increase dramatically in next five years. Look at the recent " Growth Projections" post on this web site. By the time of construction local traffic will grow along with the development. My understanding is that there are no plans to widen Eubanks Road. If the road were widen there were bottleneck at MLK and I40 will be serious congestion problem even if the Transfer Station is not built on Eubanks.

In the end I think this decision comes than to money and the path of least resistance. As to the cost issue I think our leaders need to look ahead at the best use of the Eubanks property long term for the county and the citizens of Chapel/Carrboro. We citizens must understand that our taxes will take a spike to pay for an alternative site in Orange County. We need to accept that or reject it. I say yes because the value of the land ( and the land around it )for alternative use will be greater than as a Transfer Station.

As for the path of least resistance I am ready to resist. We seem to want engage in discussions about waste reduction, moral responsibility for waste creation and pare the words used to make "promises" to the Rogers Road Community until we see the 18 wheelers on the Eubanks 2 lane blacktop heading toward the Transfer Station.

If you oppose the building of the Transfer Station on Eubanks Road then say so clearly and do whatever you can to legally oppose it. If you accept or endorse the Transfer Station on Eubanks then say so and state your reasons.


Greensboro's Transfer Station has not been moved to Ironwoods Community.

Here is the link :

Alderman Haven O'Donnell who organized the trip to Greensboro is well aware that the siting is not relevant for us, as, I believe, are all participants. The goal of the trip to Greensboro is to understand the transfer station itself, how it operates, what is internal to the facility, and to what extent those internal activities have impacts beyond the building.

You are correct that the traffic and neighborhood impacts would be quite different.

Although the van for the trip to G'boro tomorrow is full, there may be some spaces in cars going along. If you are interested, contact Randee to confirm if space is available. Departure is at 8:15 with return by noon.

Thanks Dan:

I can not go tomorrow. I have driven by the Greensboro Station and given it a look. I got to see a very large 18 wheeler leave the area.

The most obvious "internal activities (that) have impacts beyond the building" is the fact that whatever is processed must be hauled to the Transfer Station and then hauled away.

The traffic and neighborhood impact is not lessened by even pristine internal operation.

Alderperson Haven-O'Donnell I am sure is aware that the sites are very different. But either she or the writer of the Chapel Hill Newspaper article seemed totally focused on what goes on within the Station. From her comments she was impressed.

I will be interested in your take.

Steve, did you take any pictures?

Almost ten years ago I took part in many hours of meetings with the landfill neighbors to work on what was called a "compensation package".PArt of the package proposal that came out of those meetings was a promise to have no new solid waste operations in the area.That part of the proposed package was not approved by Orange County or Chapel Hill.Carrboro did vote to approve that promise but since the other two did not it was not included in final package.
Having spent many hours working with the landfill neighbors on that and other issues I intend to stick by my promise
Jacquie Gist

Ms. Gist, thank-you for taking the only possible principled stand on this issue. The Roger's Road community has had 34 one year tours of duty with our garbage. While there are many valid issues on what to do with our garbage, none those issues or answers to those issues are advanced by siting any new facility on Eubanks. It is incredible that anyone believes that there is any justification, or rationalization for forcing more sacrifice on this community.

The lack of fairness, integrity or forward planning in this process has been glaring to date. I only hope that the other leaders of our community wake up and follow the examples that you and Ms. Broun have set. Take Eubanks Road off the table.

David Richter

Steve Peck wrote...
"Does anyone know where to find the number of waste disposal trucks and 18 wheeler haul away trucks will be entering and exiting the Transfer Station on a daily basis???"

The numbers quoted by the Waste Management Department are 12 to 15 18-wheelers a day. Each of these trucks can hold 6 to 10 garbage trucks' worth of trash. The math comes out to 156 to 330 one-way trips by garbage trucks and 18- wheelers combined, or 1 truck every 1 ½ to 2 ½ minutes.

The Chapel Hill Town Council has now said that they can not meet to talk about the waste station before the BOCC planned vote on March 13. It's unlikely that the Carrboro BOA will forward any recommendation before then either. I hope that those two bodies will at least ask the BOCC to postpone a vote until they have time to comment.

Thanks, Mark. Your four points are absolutely correct. As well as reviewing the 1997 agreements, the Commissioner's ought to take a close look at the landfill neighbors' current "Hope List":

1) Cover open bed trucks going to landfill (agreed to in 1997 document)
2) Lower speed limit from 40 to 25 (issue with DOT)
3) Trash pick up along side Rogers Road (agreed to in 1997 document)
4) Site clean up and community assistance
5) Transit system for Rogers Road (promised in 1997, cost estimate for next FY requested last month)
6) Summer jobs for youth (15-19)
7) Sidewalks on both side of road (Carrboro is proceeding with study of its side)
8) Define county-wide goals as relate to Rogers Road communities
9) Recreation program in this community

I met with Reverend Campbell and Barbara Hopskin last week to discuss this list. It seems to convey a clear sense of what the neighborhood is looking for. I was struck by the extent to which these items are matters of common-sense, with many part of our regular processes for neighborhood improvements (improvements Rogers Road has waited on for far too long).

Terri - sewer was not part of the agreement reached in 1997. No reason it cannot be part of the discussion at this time.

There is a report in today's Herald on the trip to the Greensboro transfer station organized by Alderman Haven-O'Donnell. Some 20 people took the trip including three county commissioners and a number of neighbors.

Interestingly enough, Greensboro took the site of the original landfill off the list of possible transfer station sites, in the name of "environmental justice". I hope Orange Co. shows the same good judgement.

The agenda item for tomorrow's BOCC discussion on the transfer station is here. There is a fair amount of information on the two additional sites near Hwy 70.

Dan, the information about the alternative sites is only surface level. The report admits that there has been no real in depth analysis as there has been real site search authorized nor any real criteria for a site. The sites have been nothing more than after thoughts. This has been the antithesis of Greensboro's process. A real search may turn up many more appropriate sites. We need a professional and thorough process in place authorized by the County BOC letting the SWAB to do its job. The years of procrastination on this subject does not justify abusing the Rogers Road community.

I thought I would post a letter here that I recently sent to the Board of County Commissioners on this topic:

Dear Mr. Chairman and Commissioners;

The Carrboro Board of Aldermen has not collectively come to a conclusion about the proposed Transfer Station, but realizing that you may be making major decisions on March 13, I am writing on my own behalf solely, rather than as a voice for the entire Board. I have struggled a lot with the question of locating a Solid Waste Transfer Station on Eubanks Road, as I know you have as well. Here is what I have concluded about this idea:

1. I do not believe that any genuine commitment was ever made to have the Landfill be the last solid waste facility ever located on Eubanks Road. However, the fundamental fairness issues that are raised by the proposed Transfer Station site are valid. It is clear that at least unconsciously the race and income of the neighbors were factors in siting the landfill on Eubanks Road. To build the Transfer Station there without a systematic site search or any compensation would be eating the fruit of the same poisonous tree, as they say in criminal law.

2. Although the County staff has clearly done a lot of homework on some possible sites, a systematic search has not been made. A site along I-40 or I-85 is obviously desirable, but there must be more possibilities than have been given serious consideration to date. For me, it might be possible to conclude that Eubanks Road is the only feasible site IF a systematic site search came to that conclusion. So far as I can see, that has not happened.

3. The County and Towns have not yet accomplished all of the Compensation Items that were agreed to by the Assembly of Governments in 1997. As a community we need to revisit the issue of compensation for the impacts of the existing landfill. Discussion of a further facility there without having provided the compensation we already agreed to ought to be totally out of the question.

4. If the County Commission decides to proceed with the Eubanks Rd. Site, then I believe that the County needs to undertake an additional round of compensation negotiation with these same neighborhoods and that the County needs to be meaningfully generous in such negotiations.

Finally, I do not want to imply that the above conclusions are easily drawn. I know that all of us are trying to find the best, practical solution for our entire community and I am not writing to criticize anyone who may come to a different conclusion about this matter, but the County Commission asked for my opinion and so, here it is. In short, I respectfully believe you have a lot more homework to do.


Mark Chilton
Mayor of Carrboro

Excellent letter Mark. What were the promised compensations (#3)? I hope sewer connections were one of them.

To better understand the "compensation items" Mark refers to in his third point, see the minutes of the 10/22/97 Assembly of Governments meeting here.

The decision on the water line came later on. Many of these items are hardly compensation but are really just good neighbor policies for the operator of the landfill.

For those who don't want to slog through the minutes, here is a summary:

OCTOBER 22, 1997

Item: three residents of the area near the Eubanks Road landfill (two in the Rogers Road area, an one in the Millhouse Road area) be identified to receive all mailings and information sent to members of the _ 4
Landfill Owners Group or its successor agency
Motion Passed
Item: no expansion (beyond the existing permitted disposal capacity) of the disposal areas (MSW or Construction and Demolition) of the Eubanks Road landfill occur.
The Working Group recommends that the Landfill Owners Group or its successor make no incremental land acquisitions at the Eubanks Road Landfill.
Item: following the closure of The Eubanks Road landfill, portions of the landfill (as allowed by regulations), the Neville tract, and at least 50 acres of the Green tract will be used for recreation facilities.
Item: sponsor a public information meeting regarding the planning boundary (future annexation boundary) between Chapel Hill and Carrboro.
Item: re-route the North-South connector bus line to serve Rogers Road on either its northbound or southbound trip, starting with the 1998-1999 service year
Motion Passed
Item: erect “Children Playing” and “School Bus Stop” signs on Rogers Road.
Motion Passed
Item: budget for the installation of perimeter fencing around the Orange Regional Landfill no later than the 1998-1999
Motion Passed
investigate with the Orange County Attorney the possibility of enacting legislation which would provide for civil penalties for illegal dumping, to make it easier to penalize people who litter. In addition, the LOG will publicize the names of those convicted of illegal dumping.
Item: The Working Group recommends that additional “No Littering” signs be erected in the neighborhoods near the landfill.
Motion Passed
Item: policy will govern issues affecting neighboring residents, including nighttime construction, blasting, and noise. The policy will identify ways to mitigate or eliminate adverse effects on landfill neighbors
Motion Passed
Item: litter pickup on Eubanks Road east of the landfill entrance at least twice weekly, on Eubanks Road west of the landfill entrance at least six times annually, and on Rogers Road at least eight times annually.
Motion Passed
Item: requires loads of mulch leaving the Orange Regional Landfill to be covered. The Landfill will make available for sale tarps of various sizes for purchasers of mulch to cover their loads.
Motion Passed
Item: require loads of waste (MSW and Construction and Demolition waste) being brought to the Orange Regional Landfill to be covered.
Motion Passed
Item: water and sewer mains be extended to provide service to the area along the entire length of Rogers Road; Millhouse Road from Eubanks Road to New Jericho Road; and serving households on other side streets off these main roads (including, but not limited to Purefoy Drive, Rusch Road, Priscilla Lane, Sandberg Lane, Meadow Run Court, Manor Drive, Manor Court and Blackwood Mountain Road)
Motion Did Not Pass

Mark, thanks for pointing out that BOC has not yet done its job. I am not as tactful as you but thats the nut of it. Promises were made and broken and past behavior often predicts future behavior.

Dan, when are you going to actually take a stand?

The Chapel Hill Town Council has been very strict with OWASA about odor abatement for the wastewater treatment plant. When neighbors to the plant complained last year, OWASA volunteered to undertake a fairly expensive program and the Town Council holds them accountable by expecting periodic progress reports.

Why isn't the same kind of expectation placed on the landfill? I realize the size of the operations are quite different with the landfill being much larger, but it does seem like some degree of oversight in protection of nearby citizens should be assumed by the local government.

I can't say I'm particularly fond of quoting Bismarck but his “Politics is the art of the possible” at times has much to recommend it, particularly for those who hold public office. Politics is not all about “taking stands.”

That said, I don't mind laying out my thinking at this juncture. As I indicated above, I agree with the four points laid out by Mark.

My own thinking is informed by my sense that the environmental justice issue is paramount. This has been very well expressed by your neighbors and by your yourself with particular conviction when you came before the Board of Aldermen.

The transfer station may, in itself, not be the sort of burden the landfill has been but it's placement on Eubanks Road nonetheless further burdens the Rogers Road neighbors. It is impossible to separate this placement from the long history of abuses suffered by this and by the larger African-American community. Meetings I had recently with neighborhood leaders and leaders of the NAACP drove this point home.

With those beliefs, I am still not in a position to weigh all the factors that the commissioners must take into account: the costs, the other neighborhoods, the time frame, etc. There are also the environmental and economic considerations of a site close to the population center. However, I would encourage the commissioners not to think they can save a multi-million dollar land purchase by locating on Eubanks Road. As Mark said, siting the transfer station on Rogers Road should only be done with a serious investment in improvements to the neighborhood.

The commissioners can help matters by disclosing their process of investigating sites or, if that has been less than thorough, undertaking a more rigorous search. At some point, of course, they will have to finish with searching. Whatever the outcome, there will be some who remain unsatisfied.

If, after that, the commissioners are pretty well set on Eubanks Road, then I would take Mark's point 4 a step farther and encourage the county to enter into a partnership with the neighborhood, posing the question: what neighborhood improvements, site plan considerations, and road improvements can make this a win-win situation. It is perhaps not too late for the commissioners to move in that direction, understanding that it will be difficult at best to gain the trust of the Rogers Road neighbors.

That's a fair question, Terri. One might also expect a similar level of scrutiny for a Transfer Station if it is to be built on Eubanks Road. As I understand it, the County would need a Special Use Permit from the Chapel Hill Town Council in order to put the Transfer Station on Eubanks. I would not expect that such a permit would be easy to obtain.

Terri, the SWAB minutes for Nov. 2nd, 2006, for instance, mention monitoring but I haven't found the exact parameters:

Wilson states that typically it would not be unusual for some kind of environmental study to be done, but since this facility would be located on property that has had intensive environmental evaluation and a long history of monitoring there would be no reason to do so.

Interesting that studying additional environmental impacts - such as offsite traffic, etc. - weren't merited.

This was the same meeting where the traffic concerns were downplayed:

Pollock states that it was mentioned to the Commissioners, in light of some of their specific concerns, that enclosed trucks were going to drive into a building that is contained, environmentally sound, with odor control and then drive out. The other thing mentioned was the traffic issue. With the traffic from Chapel Hill Public Works and Transportation, UPS traffic, and the general increase of traffic coupled to the new development slated for Eubanks Road, the fifteen or so tractor trailers from a transfer station would not be noticeable. We feel that some of the specific things are covered in the response. There will be an eighty foot tall hill of grass between the neighborhood and the transfer station as a buffer zone. The environmental impact as a transfer station will be minimal, the odors that are experienced now will be eliminated. There are no more public [owned and operated] sanitation trucks using the road as a pass-through. But Carrboro trucks are now picking up waste in that neighborhood on their side of Rogers Road.

The EPA landfill gas unit had a display/staff at last week's state sustainable energy conference. Did you know that capturing methane is one way to reduce landfill odor?

Here's another surprising fact: incorporating biosolids from wastewater treatment process increases the amount of methane available for capture. Hopefully OWASA will be exploring a partnership with the Landfill as part of their biosolids management plan. That would kill two birds with one stone--reduce the need for land application of biosolids and increasing one source of locally renewable energy while reducing the odor from the landfill--which should be addressed regardless of where the transfer station is sited.

My math is getting so much better as a result of OP's new spam protection! :)



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