Commissioners discuss waste transfer station tonight

At their meeting tonight, the Board of Orange County Commissioners (BOCC) will getting an update on the process of siting as waste transfer station to ship our garbage out of the county. It looks like they might be deciding on the Eubanks site, or they could decide to look at other sites, or maybe even re-open the search.

The Manager recommends that the Board receive the attached information and provide staff with additional comments or direction regarding a final decision on a transfer station location. Should the Board wish to further consider one of the two Highway 70 candidate sites, staff will prepare a detailed assessment of the site, including the scheduling of a community meeting and other opportunities for community input into the search process, and arrange a transfer station tour for interested residents of the Highway 70/Eno DD area.

- Action agenda item abstract (PDF).

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?

UNC Gets a "C" in Sustainability

There has been a lot of good news coming from UNC on the sustainability front, including energy and water conservation efforts, partnering with OWASA on a water re-use system, stormwater collection projects, and staff dedicated to sustainability.

So why does UNC only rate a "C" in the report called the Sustainability Report Card issued by the Sustainable Endowment Institute?

As the name indicates, this organization has a primary focus on how endowment money is handled and what the ramifications of a university's investments are on overall sustainability issues. It's an interesting and important angle that I have not heard addressed locally, probably because UNC's commitment to this side of the sustainability equation apparently does not match their accomplishments in other areas.

UNC's grades are explained on page 90 of the report which can be accessed from the Institute's home page. What do you think? Should there be more accountability from UNC on this aspect of their environmental impact?

Hillsborough's growth boundary

I was pleased to read recently that the Town of Hillsborough is working with the county to develop plans for a rural buffer which will limit sprawl and guide development in areas where it's considered desirable.

Town elected officials and staff have been working with their Orange County counterparts and consultants all year to determine how large Hillsborough should grow and how the town and county can work together better along the boundaries. Under the plan, Hillsborough would have a rural buffer, an understanding with the county about what land eventually will be annexed into the town, and a limit on the expansion of water and sewer services.
- newsobserver.com | Hillsborough weighs future

Click for full-size map.

Agricultural Incubator to be Located in N. Orange

Big news in today's N&O on a farming incubator being established in Orange County by the county, the state Cooperative Extension, and NCSU's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. This is very good news for Orange County as the continued vitality of local farming will be critical to our future sustainability.

Consider the following, according to Michael Pollan:

Food energy in a 1-pound box of prewashed organic lettuce: 80 calories

Fossil-fuel energy spent growing, chilling, washing, packaging, and transporting box of lettuce from California to East Coast: More than 4,600 calories

That's a 57.5 to 1 ratio. And, there is nothing on the horizon to improve upon it. In fact, as gas supplies dwindle while demand rises, it is likely to get much worse. This means that the value of locally grown produce will continue to rise as will the value of farmland (and even garden space).



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