On September 18, 2012, we were asked by the County to consider several decisions related to reparations for the Rogers Road neighborhood, which bore the burden of the nearby landfill for many years.  A newly-formed Historic Rogers Road Neighborhood Task Force had been meeting for several months, and out of the group came several recommendations for the three jurisdictions (Chapel Hill, Orange County and Carrboro) involved in the legal entanglements of the Rogers Road community  to consider.  One was to discuss how much each jurisdiction might be willing to allocate toward a sewer infrastructure that would serve the historic Rogers Road properties.  Another was to consider allocating money to go toward construction of a community center for the neighborhood (a community center had been informally operating in the neighborhood, but had been forced to close due to several code violations).  The County had already signaled their intent to contribute financially to these two initiatives.

The Board members present (Dan Coleman was absent) were unanimous in agreeing that money should be allocated toward improvements in the neighborhood, although we discussed several logistical concerns about the proposals.  With regard to the sewer infrastructure, we wondered if future developers would really be the ones to ultimately benefit from the sewer extension, rather than current residents.  We also discussed concerns with the ongoing operating costs that would be associated with any community center that was built.  We further noted that there was a community center planned for a church property being developed on Rogers Road, and wondered whether it made sense to pursue a joint venture with the church.  We also were concerned about agreeing to allocate a percentage of money toward what was currently an unknown total cost.

Ultimately, the Board voted 6-0 “that the Town of Carrboro has the intention of contributing not more than $900,000 for the Town’s portion of the community center and cost of the sewer project.” We also directed the Town Manager to research funding sources, and investigate how the Town could recoup the sewer line investment costs from future developers.  We also expressed our appreciation to the County for their commitment to the project and requested that the Town of Chapel Hill consider their share of the contribution.

I just had my candidate interview with the local Sierra Club, and it made me think more specifically about environmental issues we have addressed on the Board of Aldermen.  Much of what we do has an environmental “bent” (for example, providing our transit system reduces our dependence on gasoline, approving enhanced buffer regulations improves the quality of our water, up fitting homes and businesses so that they are more energy-efficient results in less use of electricity and gas).  So, here is a list of several action items we have approved on the Board within the last year that I believe directly reflects our long-standing Board policy of preserving and protecting our environment:

-We have spent a great amount of time on our local and regional transit and greenway plans.

-We received a $74,000 grant from the Southeastern Energy Alliance/U.S. Department of Energy (in partnership with the Town of Chapel Hill),  implemented our Carrboro WISE (“Worthwhile Investments Save Energy”) program (approving the design of a residential retrofit program), and approved our first energy efficiency revolving loan.

-We approved various developments under our stalwart Land Use Ordinance, including a unique development (Veridia) that is proposed to be LEED certified with many environmental features, such as a solar photovoltaic array to offset community electrical usage, solar water heaters, a rainwater capture and reuse water system and a community garden.

-We have encouraged walking and biking by the construction of sidewalks and bike lanes.

-We constructed a new Town fire station, complete with many environmental features such as extensive use of daylighting, energy-efficient lighting, flushless toilets and a solar water heater.

-We filed a bill in the North Carolina General Assembly to ask to operate under the new N.C. Building Code requirements (these will contain required energy efficiency standards) a year early.  The new requirements are scheduled to take effect in 2012; we asked to have them effective for us in 2011 (unfortunately, the bill has not moved forward).

-We approved and supported Town staff’s participation in environmental restoration efforts along the Bolin Creek Watershed and Baldwin Park.

-We authorized and received a comprehensive Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report (prepared by a class at the University of North Carolina), a report analyzing community and municipal GHG emissions and ways to reduce these.

-We have been working to improve protection of the riparian buffers and streams that flow into Jordan Lake by making revisions to our ordinances, pursuant to the Jordan Lake Rules.

I am proud of this work we have done and know that we will continue these types of efforts.

There was an event held at Baldin Park as part of the Creek Action Tour held in Carrboro/Chapel Hill on April 9, 2011.  The tour was a collaborative effort of many organizations and individuals, and includeds municipal, residential, educational, and community garden sites. Sites throughout the towns were on the tour which ran from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon.   The kickoff of the event occurred at Baldwin Park along the municipal boundary, where construction for a restoration project was just completed; to mark the occasion, there was a tree planting ceremony at 9:30 am.  While there, attendees also saw the area where the community garden is being established.  It was a wonderful event where all present learned a bit about the rich history of the land comprising Baldwin Park.