Don Evans has been a newspaper editor for 30 years, most recently with The Chapel Hill News. Nancy Oates is a freelance business and features writer and has voted in every election since she turned 18. She was elected to a four-year term on Chapel Hill Town Council in November 2015.

A community thrives on vigorous discussion. This blog welcomes informed debate and information that contributes to that goal. We reserve the right to delete comments that don’t further that debate or that stray from the path of civility. Keep comments on-topic, and don’t pick fights or insult each other.

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  1. Steve Peck

     /  November 19, 2010

    Appreciate your comments and this blog.

    Saw this on WCHL Website. Hope you folks comment on this issue. Along with economic growth/stagnation and the struggles of a village becoming a city the continuing problem of waste disposal is THE issue of the next decade for Orange County and Chapel Hill/Carrboro.

    BoCC To Towns: Trash Decisions Won’t Wait
    11/18/10 11:19PM


    By Elizabeth Friend

    With the clock ticking on the Orange County landfill, county commissioners and staff are looking for a firm commitment from the towns on the future of the inter-local agreement for solid waste disposal.

    Orange County leaders decided to haul trash to Durham once the landfill closes in two years time, but Director of Solid Waste Management Gayle Wilson says Hillsborough, Carrboro, and Chapel Hill have yet to sign on to the plan.

    The amount of garbage going to Durham could affect how much the county pays to dispose of waste. If the towns don’t participate, Wilson says it’s unlikely the county could secure preferential rates.

    At a work session Thursday, commissioners voiced frustration over the lack of cooperation from elected officials. Though county staff members have met with their municipal counterparts, there is no agreement in the works.

    Commissioner Barry Jacobs told his peers that the Hillsborough Town Board will be considering a proposal from a private developer to build a waste-to-energy facility near Old 86 and I-40.

    Jacobs expressed surprise that the board of commissioners would not be consulted on the plan, but County Manager Frank Clifton called that proposal “suspect at best,” given the small amount of trash generated by the town.

    Wilson said he’s heard nothing but speculation about a new private facility.

    County commissioners directed Board Chair Valerie Foushee to send a letter to the mayors of Hillsborough, Carrboro and Chapel Hill urging them to move forward on a new inter-local agreement for solid waste management

  2. Steve, the latest phase of the search for a sustainable and responsible approach to dealing with our waste stream has been going on for over 5 years. Dealing with our refuse is not really THE problem but an aspect of the bigger issue of living within our community’s carrying capacity. Other similar constraints include: making a firm decision to either constrain growth to the current OWASA owned watershed or open up access to Lake Jordan/purchasing water from other localities (both still on the table as options), establishing upper limits and more environmentally cognisant policies for spreading our bio-solids throughout the county, etc.

    As the trash issue has wended its way forward, I’ve been trying to get our local governments ready. Starting in 2005, part of my platform when I ran for Council was to prepare both fiscally and operationally for the change. For instance, our current recycling program is subsidised in part by the tipping fees from the landfill. We need to fund current and expanded recycling service without those fees. Additional costs for sending our trash to Durham, a stop-gap approach I lobbied for (“Plan B”) when it became obvious that the BOCC didn’t take my and other folks call for a new kind of in-county facility to manage the waste stream seriously, are going to predictably increase but Chapel Hill hasn’t budgeted accordingly.

    Beyond the fiscal impact is the greater questions which our elected folks don’t want to grapple with (or know that dealing with effectively will fly in the face of their “rah rah growth at any cost” approach): Do we craft policy recognising an upper limit to growth based on resource constraints? Do we budget infrastructure improvements based on the whole of this community’s ability to pay? Do we agree to draw from resources within our County or can we beg/borrow/appropriate ever more resources – irrespective of the costs – from our neighbours to fuel growth? Do we shed our problems, contributing to the degraded Lake Jordan water quality, on to other folks literally downstream from us (corollary: do we irresponsibly dump our trash on another socially/economically disadvantaged community)?

  3. Another quick point. Keep an eye on how our leadership deals with the inter-local agreement. The BOCC seems prepared to let the municipalities go their own way. Given the dearth of participation by them over the years I can understand (I wanted to join the SWAB as CH rep, Jim Ward finally took up the task this year). Rather than dissolution, we should be calling on our respective governments to forge a stronger compact. The pooled resources of all parties – the County, Hillsborough, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Efland, possibly more – makes some options much more practicable.

  4. Steve Peck

     /  November 19, 2010

    With all due respect Will you are missing a present and real danger. There are numerous issues relating to growth our community must face but THE problem of what we will do with our trash is before us. No amount of discussion about ” living within our community’s carrying capacity” will solve the immediate issue of closing Eubanks and finding an alternative. This county has engaged in broad discussions and think fest on the issue to the point of putting us all against the wall.

    The landfill on Eubanks has 2 more years before it reachs capacity. The initial thought was that it would be full by now but new recycling measures and such seem to have pushed back the date. Closing the Eubanks site permanently still seems far away. To paraphase Moses Carey : “All roads seem to lead back to Eubanks”. Until there is agreement on short term options that close Eubanks and dispose of Orange County waste by some other means Eubanks is still our waste disposal site.

  5. “Until there is agreement on short term options that close Eubanks and dispose of Orange County waste by some other means Eubanks is still our waste disposal site.”


  6. david

     /  December 1, 2010

    i think that it’s time that you guys focus on some issues going on in the chapel hill government regarding housing issues….how do i get in touch with you? the email addresses i have are old!


  7. Bill Dare

     /  September 2, 2011

    Any comments on this current piece of news?


    How is it that the citizens of Chapel Hill (and employees, who haven’t had a raise in 3-4 year) feels the need in this current economic downturn to spend two hundred thousand dollars on a study?!? I can give you a good idea of whether or not the lots are full just by riding by!

    -Bill Dare

  8. Patrick O'Neill

     /  October 8, 2015

    Hi Don and Nancy – Drop me an Email. I have something about the Civil War I want to send Don. Have you written any books since I last saw you ….? Hope you guys are well. Peace, Patrick

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