by Joe Schwartz
Two hours, more than a dozen public comments (it seemed more people spoke than didn't in the packed meeting) and healthy discussion didn't bring Orange County Commissioners any closer to selecting a waste transfer station site Tuesday night.
The board voted 4-3 to consider all four remaining sites with the hope of selecting one by Dec. 7. It was the latest twist in a controversial selection process that's lingered on for more than a year now.
"I've almost been rendered speechless by where we are," Commissioner Mike Nelson said. "I completely understand where the public has lost trust in the process."
The four options remaining are the Dennis Howell property along N.C. Hwy 54, shipping trash to Durham's waste transfer station and two sites, one owned by the Town of Chapel Hill and one 10-acre site owned by the county, along Millhouse Road.
Many of the residents who spoke voiced concern of the high cost of siting and maintaining a transfer station, the danger and increased traffic created by large trucks and the smell of garbage. They included Will Raymond, running for Chapel Hill Town Council, a new resident who closed on his home 10 days ago, a 15-year-old student of Emerson Waldorf School, which is nearby the Millhouse Road sites, and residents of the Rogers Road community, among a host of others.
The three dissenting votes came from Chairwoman Valerie Foushee, Alice Gordon and Nelson, who opposed the county-owned Millhouse site because it was not considered in the process outlined by the board. Nelson also made a motion to ask Hillsborough to ship its trash to Durham as the transfer station delay may necessitate keeping open a landfill in Orange County that's already nearing capacity. It failed 2-5 with Foushee voting in favor.