The Economic Opportunity of Solid Waste

I don’t think anybody in Orange County is happy that we are planning to send our trash over the horizon to a giant landfill in some poor God-forsaken community.

I don’t think our county leadership is happy about becoming beholden to a giant waste corporation that will have us by the short hairs when they want to raise the hauling rates somewhere down the road. And you don’t have to be psychic to know that fuel costs are only going to rise.

The current plans for a transfer station harness us to an unethical and increasingly expensive boondoggle. Our best bet is to avoid getting hooked into this unpredictable system by siting our own landfill in Orange County.

First, we have to adjust our perspective and realize that solid waste represents an economic opportunity. The waste stream provides many materials that have a useful purpose. Plus we’ll save money over the long run by avoiding the inevitable price hikes from waste businesses and fuel cost escalation.

We should site a well-designed landfill in one of our Economic Development Districts that have been sitting vacant for many years. Then we work to site businesses there that will make products from the waste stream. We could offer incentives such as free electricity from methane generated by the landfill. It could be the beginning of an Eco-Industrial Park.

Another key element of making us self-sufficient with solid waste is to take advantage of the many, many opportunities that still exist to reduce our output.

We’ve got the space in the Economic Development Districts. We’ve got a county Economic Development office in need of a clear mission. We’ve got time, since the current landfill will last longer than originally projected. We’ve got a chance to take care of our own business and not foist our trash on another community. It’s an opportunity to do the right thing – ethically and economically. If we commit to it, I know we can make it work.



Mark I agree that we need to take care of our own trash. I am not in favor of a waste transfer station. Here are some comments I made on my web site. A new attitude toward trash. During the 2002 drought the citizens of Chapel Hill made behavioral changes that greatly reduced the impact of the drought. The same should be done for trash, as locating the transfer station has proven to be a difficult and inflammatory issue. Changes might include:

  • Implementation of a municipal composting program. 25 percent of solid waste in America comes from yard trimmings and food scraps. This waste could be processed as compost and sold back to residents at a reasonable cost.
  • A fee charged to those who dispose of trash above a threshold level, as is done with water consumption.
  • Required (and enforced) recycling by businesses, particularly bars and restaurants

I'm not convinced of rosy predictions of how much we can save in waste above where we are today, nor of the revenue opportunities, but I fully agree that we should have a strategy that a) keeps our waste local; b) does something useful with a new landfill; and c) finds industrial areas to site.  Sending trash to Virginia has never made sense to me -- from an economic perspective, from an environmental perspective, nor from a justice perspective if you view outside our little bubble.  Of course, the alternative will certainly make someone in OC unhappy.  That is supposed to be why we have LEADERS making these decisions.  Explaining why it is the right thing to do and doing so even in the face of opposition.  The previous plans to build a transfer station haven't been a solution to anything.

I guess this is a great idea as long as they don't put the landfill near your house. Now I am surprised that you didn't support putting the landfill on the site in your area the last go round we had at siting a landfill in the county.

The commissioners & solid waste staff would not allow consideration of smaller landfill sizes based upon expected waste reduction. The size sites that they were proposing were way beyond a reasonable acreage.Design guidelines for a state-of-the-art landfill were never devised. The county leadership caused that process to fail - not the unwillingness of citizens to participate.    

Duke caused that search to fail by finding a huge way out and overriding anything the county would have liked to do on the final selected site. Sounds like you would be willing to let the site come to the southwest corner of Orange county. 

This bs of allowing aliases is counter-productive to serious debate.

It is not about honest posts. It's all about identity theft. With someones real name (for example) a couple of clicks on the Orange County site and you have a wealth of information about a person, their real estate holding. it's value  short of their SS number. We don't have any say on whether that informataion goes on the site or not. In general I don't put any id information on the web nor do I put credit card info on the web.What difference does it make whether someone wants to protect their identity from identity theft or not in the debate. Quit trying to put down and discredit the devils advocate and address the issue.Thx

NO landfill anywhere in Orange County. Landfills are so out dated. Waste to Energy is what we should look at. A landfill will always be a problem in a county this size and population.

Plus, why get ourselves addicted to trash as a fuel?

I'm not familiar with this...can you explain it a little bit please?

If I may refer you to the Orange County Voice weblink which gives a waste to energy overview and compares to landfills as well. 

Why isn't NC one of the 23 states that define WTE as renewable power? see IWSA Fact Sheet.

generating waste does not create reusable fuel. That's marketing BS. Plus throwing pollution into the air is no more healthy for the environment than landfilling.What people need to understand about WTE is that the products we use, the plastics, the chemicals, the heavy metals, are the problem with both landfilling and WTE. These products to not decompose safely. Many pharmaceuticals break down but then recombine to produce even more toxic substances.Investing in a new form of disposal that doesn't address the base problem is not a sustainable practice.

Mark, you wrote, "We’ve got the space in the Economic Development Districts. We’ve got a county Economic Development office in need of a clear mission." Since you are a longtime observer of local politics, why do you think it is the ED office does not have a "clear mission"? Afterall, one of the county's main ED assests, its' three Economic Development Districts, have been in existence for about as long as the county has been grappling with landfill issues, circa 1994 or so. Allan Rosen

I think it generally has to do with leadership from the commissioners, a questionnable hire in Broadwell, and the age-old problem of nearly all government staff hires being trained in the status quo at Planning Central. Broadwell's first public economic development declaration was calling for an airport in rural Orange County. In so doing, he revealed himself to be just another out-of-touch big development guy. The future is certain to force us to be more local, more self-reliant, and more environmentally conscious. We should be shaping economic development along those lines.The fact that the EDD's have been vacant all these years shows that we have no clear mission. The reasons are more complex.

How long are you going to continue this Bradwell charge that he has clearly addressed.  Where does he say put an airport in rural Orange County? Yes, absurd!

Orange economic head undecided on airportSubmitted by mschultz on 12/08/2008 - 19:42

var addthis_pub="nando";Tags: OrangeChat | airportBrad Broadwell, Orange County's economic development director, says he has no opnion on whether the county should build an airport because he still has too many questions about it. Broadwell has taken heat from anti-airport forces because he's spoken publicly about the airport. He's also been accused of speaking out of turn, since the county's elected board has not taken a position on an airport. But Broadwell says he's just doing his job. He's never said the county should build an airport, only that airports have the potential to create good-paying jobs. "There are no middle-class industries here," he says. "This is a chance to do it."    If Broadwell has taken heat it may be because he's the only one talking. Former commissioners Chairman BarryJacobs sent Chancellor Thorp a letter asking for moreinformation about the scope of the airport authority before the county board appoints its representatives. Thorp said he'd get back to the county after the holidays. Broadwell wants more information too. For example, would an airport site have water and sewer lines? That could determine its revenue-generating potential as many spin-off enterprises need that kind of infrastructure.        "Just because I ask these questions people see me as advocating something," Broadwell says. "I just want a discussion."

He made the statement at the annual State of the Economy breakfast. When he got feedback, he changed his tune.

Not what he said.  Were you present?

Mark,You give three reasons as to why there is no "clear mission" for economic development. However, the one regarding the ED Director has been accurately rebutted by Fred Black. You also provide a nebulous, yet conspiratorial, statement, "nearly all government staff hires being trained in the status quo at Planning Central"? Unless you are willing to unravel this, I consider this just more smoke and mirrors & of no value to the concern at hand. I do agree with your penultimate sentence, "The fact that the EDD's have been vacant all these years shows that we have no clear mission." But again your conclusion leaves a lot to be desired, "The reasons are more complex." The reasons for ... "no clear mission"? The reasons for ... EDD vacancy? I'm interested in your opinion, what are these complex reasons you elude to?Allan Rosen PS -- full disclosure: In the spring I was appointed to the county economic development commission, the commissioners' advisory board and in August I was elected EDC Vice-Chair. 

Government staff are trained in basically the same ideas & techniques at various universities around the country. Then they are interchangeable. Work in Tallahassee, then get a job in Rockford, then go to Fayetteville. There has traditionally been little understanding of how communities can survive and thrive in a macro-economy that is incredibly dominated by huge corproations. Broadwell most certainly was promoting the idea of a local airport. To claim that his mentioning it was merely a hypothetical musing is a bit much. Especially when major players, including former county manager John Link were well into the airport project.Allan, what's your take on the state of economic development? And, to the point of the post, will you raise this issue of an eco-industrial park in an EDD with the EDC?

Loose-end #1: A treatise was not required, Mark. You satifactorily explained your thesis regarding "Planning Central" in less than 60 words. I'm sure there are counter-examples. #2: I think you gain zero allies in advocating for an Eco-Industrial Park when you belittle the county's economic development professionals, whether personally or by calling them drones of Planning Central. #3: I don't think significant progress on county economic development initiatives will be made until the active, concerned citizenry peel the onion of the complex reasons which led us to our sub-optimal status quo. Until we have a widely-understood and widely-acknowledged understanding for our current condition, the way forward will mostly follow Santyana's maxim. So I repeat myself: ... your conclusion leaves a lot to be desired,  ... what are these complex reasons you elude to that now leave us with no clear ED mission?I do have a take on the state of economic development in the county and that is probably one reason I was appointed to the EDC. Now that I'm there my take is being informed and influenced by having the good fortune of seeing the sausage-making up close. Over time, I'm sure I'll find ways to share my treatise on this topic, but not yet. I'm still doing field research, so to speak.As for my willingness to raise the issue of an eco-industrial park in an EDD, let me digress a little first. The county commissioners established the Affordable Housing Advisory Board in September 2001. Since there was pent-up demand to recommend AH solutions, at most of our earliest meetings members of the public presented their AH ideas to the advisory board, usually one presenter per meeting. So, here's what I'll do on the topic of a county eco-industrial park. I'll propose to the ED Chair that we include on our monthly agenda time to hear well-formulated ideas about county ED from non-EDC members. So, while I may not personally raise the issue of an eco-industrial park, I will make an effort to get it -- and other ideas -- on the agenda. 

...that an "Eco Industrial Park" where 'something' is done with our trash is going to go over better with the surrounding area than an airport???  Really now, O.C. for being so "progressive" is just as NIMBY as any other place.  "That's a great idea so long as it isn't within 5 miles of my house."  Just look at what happened with the idea of a WTS.  No one wants that anywhere near them - the entireity of Bingham Twp. (where I also live) is off limits to anything other than single-family houses on large acreage lots.  Environmentally sensitive lands??  Really now, *any* land can be argued to be environmentally sensitive in one context or another around here.

If you think people won't be up in arms about something in the EDDs, you're fooling yourself.  Someone from some angle will be.  Just look at the Buckhorn Village fiasco.

Just my anonymous $.02.

From the May 5 County Commissioners Meeting:  Presentation on the Economic Development Commission’s White Paper on Developing a Solar Cluster in Orange County. The Board will receive information on the development of a solar cluster in Orange County

Just what we need - businesses that we know will have a growing demand & which help solve major environmental problems. An eco-industrial park attempts to create an "ecosystem" of businesses whereby waste products from one business are useful for another.

 What is the purpose of public office? Is it to serve the community or to protect your personal interests? Laurin Easthom can see Eubanks Road from her house, so "I just don't think it's the right thing to do". Jim Merritt wouldn't consider a Millhouse site because he spent summers on Millhouse Road as a child. And Matt Czajkowski says "I think there are environmental merits to that location and also merits economically for the town, but on the other hand, we make compromises all the time for the good of the community, and we require it of others". What are they saying? Sounds like they are asking the community to sacrifice our environment and our local budget for them personally, and for their friends. What are these three politicians proposing as a solution to our (mostly Chapel Hill's) waste disposal problem? I really want to hear what they see as the best solution. Thanks.




CHAPEL HILL - Four Town Council members campaigning for election should
be enough to keep a trash transfer station off the east side of
Millhouse Road.

Merritt, Matt Czajkowski, Mark Kleinschmidt and Laurin Easthom all said
last week they oppose letting Orange County site the facility on part
of a 32-acre site at the Town Operations Center.

That is one of
four options for dealing with Orange County's trash in the future. The
county owns a 10-acre site across Millhouse Road and is also
considering part of a 150-acre site west of Carrboro and partnering
with Durham County on an expansion of its solid waste transfer station.

the time the Orange County commissioners make their decision, scheduled
for Dec. 7, any of the Town Council members up for election may have
been voted out of office. The county wants to hear from the town by
Nov. 25. One of the current office holders' last votes could be to
protect the Rogers Road neighborhood from another garbage facility in
its vicinity.

Incumbent Ed Harrison, the fourth council member
running to keep his seat -- member Mark Kleinschmidt is running for
mayor instead of another council term -- said he plans to follow
outgoing Mayor Kevin Foy's suggestion.

Foy will ask the council
Monday night to have staff investigate the each of the county's four
options' impact on the town before deciding whether to offer the Town
Operations Center site for the transfer station.

"My approach is
to be fully informed before deciding how to vote on something which is
evidently of major importance to a lot of people," Harrison said.
"Dealing with Orange County's solid waste would be an example of
something that important."

Harrison said if no one else does, he
will make a motion asking Town Manager Roger Stancil to investigate the
options. But even if Foy and council members Sally Greene and Jim Ward
go along, that won't be enough votes to carry the proposal. It will
need a fifth.

Jim Merritt, who spent summers on Millhouse Road as
a child, promised months ago that he wouldn't vote for it. Since then,
colleagues have joined him.

"I don't think that you can ignore
extremely strong community sentiment that is opposed to siting a
transfer station there," said Matt Czajkowski, who is running for
mayor. "I think there are environmental merits to that location and
also merits economically for the town, but on the other hand, we make
compromises all the time for the good of the community, and we require
it of others."

Said his rival Kleinschmidt, "Given the input I've
received from the community over the last six months, I'm not convinced
at this point on Thursday morning at 9:30 that the Town Operations
Center is an appropriate place. I'm willing to work with the county to
find an appropriate place."

Incumbent Town Council member Laurin
Easthom said she doesn't want to see the transfer station on either
Millhouse Road site, both for Rogers Road's sake and for her own.

can see Eubanks Road from my backyard," said Easthom, who lives in the
Larkspur neighborhood off Weaver Dairy Road Extension. "I'm closer to
that site than some people on Rogers Road. I just don't think it's the
right thing to do." or 932-8760


Community Guidelines

By using this site, you agree to our community guidelines. Inappropriate or disruptive behavior will result in moderation or eviction.


Content license

By contributing to OrangePolitics, you agree to license your contributions under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Creative Commons License

Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.