A new task force will decide how a sewer system and a new community center will be built for residents living near the county landfill.
The Orange County Board of Commissioners, Chapel Hill Town Council, Carrboro Board of Alderman and Hillsborough Board of Commissioners consented to establish the task force during a joint meeting Thursday night.
The boards met to discuss the future of the area’s solid waste and how the county will mitigate the effects of the landfill on its neighbors.
Last year county commissioners voted to close the landfill in 2013, it opened in 1972.
The task force would include two representatives from each municipality, two county commissioners and two members of the Rogers Eubanks Neighborhood Association, which has requested the community center and sewer lines.
The task force will explore costs and plans for a Rogers Road neighborhood community center and sewer lines for nearby homes. It would present its findings to the county and towns at the end of this year, so the governing boards can consider the project’s costs in their budget discussions in 2013.
Local officials largely agreed that a community center was the central part of a mitigation effort.
Past records have shown that the county had promised to build a park in the neighborhood once the landfill closed, said Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton. With current state laws, a park isn’t feasible, but a community center is a good alternative, he said.
“To me this idea of community center is a kind of reasonable substitution for that,” he said.
Several officials also wanted to make sure that the costs of the center and sewer lines was fairly divided between the county and three towns.
County Commissioner Earl McKee said he supports investing in a community center, but when it comes to extending sewer lines, he has reservations, especially since the county currently has a shortfall of $3 million in its post-closure expenses for the landfill.
He is also not convinced that the landfill has affected the area’s sewer system, he said.
“We need to be very careful when we start setting parameters of extending sewer,” he said. “We need to start looking very seriously at these costs that could very easily explode on us. "
The county and towns agreed that the installation of sewer lines would be limited to the historic Rogers Road neighborhood and would not include surrounding neighborhoods like Larkspur. Individual homeowners would still have to pay to connect to the sewer lines once they are built.
County Commissioner Valerie Foushee suggested that the task force first focus on plans for a community center, then move on to sewer.
The county spent $650,000 extending water lines to homes in the Rogers Road area last year. Commissioners have also allocated $750,000 from the county’s solid waste enterprise fund, which comes from the landfill’s tipping fees, to create a Rogers Road Remediation Reserve Fund.
The remediation fund will have $1.2 million when it stops generating money when the landfill closes in June 2013.
The county also agreed last October to initiate a “one time” effort to clean up illegal dumpsites in the Rogers Road community. Several dumpsites are located on private property, but the county has offered to help clean them up at no cost to the property owner.
The towns largely agreed and said a deadline and prompt organizing of task force members is a priority.
The group is scheduled report back to the county and all the towns at the next Assembly of Governments meeting in December.