Published: May 19, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: May 18, 2012 03:42 PM
At the Chapel Hill Town Council meeting Wednesday night, a solid waste consultant had one recommendation for a permanent solution to the old problem of what to do with the town’s trash: Build a transfer station off Millhouse Road.
If that idea sounds familiar, it’s because it’s very similar to one former Mayor Kevin Foy put forward in 2009.
It didn’t go over very well then. Foy’s suggestion triggered fierce opposition from residents and supporters of the Rogers Road neighborhood. They have fought for decades to free themselves of the burdens of living beside the Eubanks Road county landfill, and they were outraged at the suggestion that a new solid waste facility should go anywhere in the vicinity after the landfill closes in 2013.
The county commissioners ultimately decided to have the county’s garbage trucked to a transfer station in Durham, but that is regarded as a temporary solution.
Chapel Hill last week began considering various options for taking on its own solid waste management.
And, given the intensity of the opposition three years ago, when Millhouse Road was put back on the table some on the Town Council seemed a bit taken aback.
When Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt pointed out that Millhouse Road had been considered and rejected three years ago, the consultant noted that the new proposed site, unlike Foy’s, isn’t in the rural buffer.
“That was not really the primary objection,” Kleinschmidt said.
For now, all the town is doing is exploring options. And in spite of the objections that were raised three years ago, and that no doubt will be raised again, all those options, including a waste transfer station off Millhouse Road, should be on the table.
Shipping our trash to Durham is not a long-term solution. It is far from the kind of sustainable, responsible, environmentally progressive practice we expect from ourselves. For at least the near future, apparently, we’ll do it, but we can’t be proud of it.
In the long run, our goal should be to manage our waste (and minimize it) in as sustainable a manner as possible, keeping control in our own hands, and in a way that is, as council member Donna Bell put it, “environmentally just holistically, not just locally.”
The long history and sacrifices borne by the folks on Rogers Road should be honored and mitigated. Common decency and social justice demand that they be compensated for the burdens they’ve shouldered for the rest of us over the course of four decades.
But until the idea is thoroughly examined, we don’t know whether a transfer station off Millhouse Road would adversely affect those families at all.
Millhouse Road is not Rogers Road. A waste transfer station is not a landfill. And this proposal is not the same one that was made in 2009 (for one thing, this one probably would involve only Chapel Hill’s waste, not the whole county’s).
It may or many not make sense to put a transfer station there. The only way to answer that question is to explore it with an open mind and a commitment to finding the best long-term solution for the whole community.
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