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Carrboro to share Rogers Road costs

By Susan Dickson
Staff Writer

CARRBORO – Following the Orange County Board of Commissioners’ recent decision to provide the Rogers Road neighborhood with a new community center, the Carrboro Board of Aldermen on Tuesday voted unanimously to share costs for both the community center and the installation of sewer service for the neighborhood.

The commissioners earlier this month stated that they intend to move forward quickly in providing the neighborhood with a new community center, with or without assistance from the towns. The decision comes on the heels of the release of an interim report from the Historic Rogers Road Neighborhood Task Force, which outlines options for providing sewer service and a community center to the neighborhood as part of a plan to mitigate the effects of the Orange County Landfill in the community.

The board of aldermen agreed to provide 14 percent of costs, up to $900,000, for the sewer lines. The board’s share of the costs is based on contribution to the landfill, population and ability to pay. Preliminary estimates for the sewer project are at about $5.8 million, though OWASA officials have said those estimates are very rough.

“Over the course of the landfill, we basically have been 14 percent of the problem, so it makes sense that we would be 14 percent of the solution,” Mayor Mark Chilton said.

The county will fund the approximate $500,000 in construction costs for the community center, and the board of aldermen agreed to contribute to computers, supplies, permitting costs, connection costs and the first 12 months of utilities. The Rogers Road neighborhood previously had a community center run by RENA, which offered after-school and summer programs and served as a food pantry, but it was shut down in August for violating fire and safety codes.

Mayor Mark Chilton said he agreed that the board should provide funds for the community center and sewer lines but cautioned that the installation of sewer service could have unintended consequences for the neighborhood.

“If we build sewer lines to Rogers Road and new real estate developments happen, it will literally change the face of Rogers Road,” he said, adding that sewer and new development could drive up the value and thus taxes for properties in the area.

“The arrival of more real estate developments, fancier, bigger houses will inevitably have some impact on the affordability of living in the Rogers Road neighborhood,” Chilton continued.

In light of potential development that could be spurred by the installation of sewer in the area, the board asked staff to look into the possibility of recouping some of the costs of the sewer from developers seeking to build in the area in the future.

Robert Campbell, president of the Rogers-Eubanks Neighborhood Association, said that while he understood Chilton’s concerns, the benefits of the sewer would bring greater quality of life to the neighborhood.

“Make the decision, bring that sewer line, and we’ll see that the resident is going to reinvest in that community,” he said.

In addition, Campbell said, some officials had similar worries when water lines were extended to the area, but that their concerns had not been realized.

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