Rogers Rd Plan Progresses, Residents Skeptical
ORANGE COUNTY – The Rogers Road Task Force agreed Wednesday to move forward with two options for providing a sewer system, with out water services, for the community.
The first option will cost about $5.8 million and will serve 86 properties. The second option will cost $3.7 million, providing sewer services for 67 properties in the historic area of Rogers Road.
An expanded plan, costing more than $17 million and providing water services as well, was proposed in an earlier meeting.
The task force, made up of members form the Chapel Hill Town Council, the Carrboro Board of Alderman and the Board of Commissioners, in addition to representatives from the neighborhood, agreed to discuss those two, less expensive options with their respective governing boards.
The new cost-sharing plan was discussed as well. The cost-share for the Town of Chapel Hill has been lowered so it can put money towards the community center, with the county and Carrboro paying the majority of the costs. The Carrboro Board of Aldermen and the Chapel Hill Town Council have made offers on what they will pay. Carrboro has committed a price of no more than $900,000. Orange County Commissioners haven’t voted on what they are willing to contribute.
Though there was some progress towards moving forward, Rogers Road resident Jeanie Stroud says after decades of waiting, she is tired of empty promises.
“As a new group comes in, the promises fade out. They say that can’t stand behind previous decisions because they don’t have it in the records or whatever,” Stroud said. “The feeling in the community is frustration and that’s why you don’t see many people coming to the meetings. They are either dead, burned out on the issue, or warn out.”
Because the neighborhood is stretched over Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Orange County jurisdiction, making decisions on how to provide services to the area hasn’t been an easy feat.
“There is a sincere and deep-rooted frustration in the Rogers Road community that has been going on for too many years, since the beginning of the landfill opening,” said Carrboro Alderman Sammy Slade.
A point of frustration for Slade and fellow BoA member, Michelle Johnson, was when Commissioners Renee Price and Penny Rich said that County’s agenda was full until the fall, and a formal discussion could not be had until that time.
“We had, coming out of the last meeting, made a motion asking that each of the board share these proposals with their boards so that the conversation over the summer would be an informed one having a true sense of where the boards stand,” Slade said.
Price said that the Board of County Commissioners would be able to informally examine the options to a certain extent.
Another point of contention was which plan would ultimately be better for the community. Some members of the task force seemed to favor the smaller, less expensive sewer system plan, while others wanted to provide more service to more residents.
“I don’t want the neighborhood to make a choice out of a sense that the alternatives aren’t viable. But if the alternative is a problem to the Historic Rogers Road Community because it does represent a little more time required to implement, then I’m respectful of that,” Slade said.
The task force will meet again July 17at the Solid Waste Administrative Office on Eubanks Road. The group plans to begin drafting a report of what action will be taken. By August 21st, the members then hope to review the drafted report to present to their respective jurisdictions.
Lee Storrow, of the Chapel Hill Town Council, said that annexation should not be an option. He said it would place too much burden on the residents to have to then pay higher taxes. Some members agreed that an ETJ, or Extraterritorial jurisdiction, could be an option. ETJ is the legal ability of a government to exercise authority beyond its normal boundaries.
According to Michael Talbert, Assistant County Manager, if the agreement between the three municipalities had been drawn up this summer, OWASA could have broken ground by next year, in the late summer or early fall.
Talbert said that as each year passes, the costs of installing a sewer system will continue to increase.