Published: Dec 04, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Dec 04, 2012 06:58 PM
CHAPEL HILL - County and town leaders will talk Thursday about making a run at providing the Rogers Road community with affordable sewer service.
The Historic Rogers Road Neighborhood Task Force, formed to redress 40 years of detrimental effects from the county landfill, will report on its work at the Assembly of Governments meeting. The assembly brings together Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Hillsborough and county officials.
The task force also will request six more months to iron out the plans details.
The county and towns have agreed to share the cost of building a $5.8 million sewer system: Chapel Hill and the county would each pay 43 percent, and Carrboro, 14 percent. If the county and towns agree to the plan, Chapel Hill and Orange County would pay roughly $90,500 a year, and Carrboro would pay $29,500.
The county also plans to pay $650,000 for a new Rogers Road community center, and Chapel Hill will consider annexing part of the community. The remaining part is in Carrboros town limits.
David Caldwell, president of the Rogers-Eubanks Neighborhood Association, said he remains hopeful. Annexation will raise residents taxes, but it also will bring more services, he said.
In the meantime, they plan to move forward with the community center early next year and are getting tons of calls about programs, he said.
I tell them to be patient. Well help them when we can, he said.
The improvements are welcome, but community and government leaders are concerned they also could make the historically black, low-income neighborhood attractive to developers.
Mark Dorosin, county commissioner and managing attorney with the UNC Center for Civil Rights, said leaders need to talk with the community about it now, not after development and investment have changed the neighborhood.
Thats what has happened in Northside, another historically black neighborhood near downtown Chapel Hill, he said. There, the neighborhood has changed and older residents have been pushed out before anyone thought about preservation, he said.
Dorosin said Chapel Hill also should think about preserving the affordable housing in the Rogers Road community now, as well as the potential for more.
Until then, the county wants to make it easier for low-income homeowners to get dependable water and sewer service.
The county commissioners approved a $100,000 loan pool to run water and sewer lines to homes and replace plumbing that doesnt meet modern standards. The loans also will be available to homeowners in Efland, where the county broke ground last year on a $2.9 million sewer system.
County Manager Frank Clifton said the loan pool could be available within 30 days and is just a starting point. If theres interest, it could be expanded, he said.
OWASA spokesman Greg Feller said there are currently about 175 customers within 1,000 feet of Rogers Road. About 40 receive water service only; the rest have water and sewer.
Clifton said the county is trying to fulfill its promises and realizes the cost is a problem for some residents. The county also cant afford to pay everything, he said.
The new system would serve up to 86 properties in the Rogers Road area. Homeowners would have to pay roughly $20 per foot to run a sewer line from the meter to their house and a one-time hookup fee.
The system connection would be free to residents who have lived in the neighborhood since 1972, and a sliding-scale cost will be charged to those who moved in since 1972. Future developers could be required to share the cost of improving or extending the sewer system.