Orange County commissioners killed a proposal Tuesday night to put a waste transfer station in the county and set a date to close its current landfill in 2013.
After hearing comments from about 15 people and in front of a packed meeting room, commissioners unanimously voted down a proposal by Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton to build a transfer station on the northwest corner of the Interstate 40/N.C. 86 intersection.
Chilton proposed the site earlier this year as a way to save money and keep from having to truck waste waste to a Durham transfer station. But commissioners said 'no' and instead unanimously set a closure date of June 30, 2013, for the landfill on Eubanks Road and asked county staff to start negotiations with Durham to truck its waste there when the landfill closes.
Commissioner Barry Jacobs thanked Chilton for being a leader on the trash effort, which was met by groans and a "boo" from the audience. But he said any Orange County transfer station needs to be near where most of the trash is created. That comment was met with audience applause.
"Personally I'm really tired of municipal problems being solved by putting them in rural areas," he said. "I would encourage Mayor Chilton to come back with a site in Carrboro."
Leaders from six homeowners associations near the site, representing 450 properties sent a letter to commissioners opposing the proposal, which is inside the Chapel Hill-Carrboro rural buffer and along a major gateway into the county.
"We have over a million visitor to our county every year with the hope of increasing that number. Do we want to have a waste transfer station as the first thing you see coming off the interstate?" said Bill O'Neal, vice president of the North Hills homeowners association. "Nothing says tourism like a dump."
Commissioner Earl McKee agreed. "This site, for many of the reasons that were stated tonight, is on a gateway property, on a property that is right on the interstate … and is not an appropriate site for this facility," he said.
The commissioners and County Manager Frank Clifton said the county could not create inter-local agreements with the municipalities about how to deal with the county's trash until Chapel Hill finishes its study on trash. The town is set to hire a consultant to do a study which will take at least six months, Clifton said.
"Our hands are virtually tied until they've competed that," said Commissioner Steve Yuhasz.
The county will start negotiating a formal agreement to truck waste from rural Orange, not the municipalities, but will be open to including the municipalities in the agreement, if they want to be involved.
Commissioners also unanimously approved a task force to develop plans for a community center and sewer lines in the historic Rogers Road neighborhood, where the county has already laid water lines. The task force will submit a report to commissioners in August and give a final report at an Assembly of Governments meeting in December.
Commissioners Valerie Foushee and Pam Hemminger will serve on the task force along with the Rev. Robert Campbell and David Caldwell from the Rogers Eubanks Neighborhood Association. Chapel Hill and Carrboro will also each appoint two members.