bee installation at Harry's
January 2011 Newsletter

Dear Neighbor:

We hope you thoroughly enjoyed the holidays and are looking forward to an exciting 2011 in rural Orange County.  Here's what's happening:
In This Issue
Citizens Encouraged to Learn about the New Unified Development Ordinance
Update on OWASA's Forestry Plan
Chatham Terminates Plan for Landfill
DOT Needs Rural Input on Bike and Walking Paths
Other Happenings

Citizens Encouraged to Learn about the new Unified Development Ordinance

Orange County is hosting an important outreach session on the new Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) on Thursday, January 27th, 6:30 PM, at the OC West Campus Offices, 131 W. Margaret Lane, in Hillsborough (on the Lower Level, behind the main branch of the OC Library).

The outreach session comes in the middle of a public hearing on the UDO.  During the hearing, the commissioners realized that there were important changes that needed to be shared with the public.  Citizens will be able to provide feedback to the commissioners when the public hearing resumes on February 28th.

The UDO is in its initial phase.  There are no major new changes in zoning -- but important principles, including a new zoning technique called "conditional districts", will be explained.  In addition, the county will discuss priorities for future phases of the UDO.  OCV is asking that priorities include airport and other zoning issues that adversely impact rural communities.  For more information, click here.

Since the county controls zoning for the rural areas (the towns control their own zoning), the UDO is important to every resident who is interested in economic development and sustainability in rural Orange County. 

Update on OWASA's Forestry Plan 

OCV is pleased to be part of a growing coalition of organizations who are asking OWASA to not pursue the commercial forestry plan developed by True North, and instead pursue a low-impact plan that will insure water quality.  Rather than involving logging roads, staging platforms, and heavy equipment designed to remove timber for sale, a low imact plan would target forest damage and remove debris and diseased timber at minimal cost.  It is possible that qualified local businesses can do the work at minimal cost to OWASA.

In addition to shifting the direction of the plan, the coalition is asking OWASA to work in a transparent process that includes an ad hoc citizen advisory board consisting of experts, local residents, and OWASA customers.

As a review, here is a recent article that appeared in the Independent.

OWASA is still accepting public input and has received important comments from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund (click here for CWMTF's statement).  OWASA is seeking additional comments from the NC Division of Water Quality, the NC State Archeologist, the NC Natural Heritage Program, the Southern Environmental Law Center, the Trading Path Association, and others.  Hopefully, these comments will balance the input that OWASA has already received from commercial forestry and gaming experts.

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to send comments to OWASA and elected officials.  OWASA Board Chair Gordon Merklein has indicated that OWASA will address citizen comments and suggested alternatives for moving forward prior to making any updates to the draft plan.  

Chatham Terminates Plan for Landfill

In response to strong and well informed advocacy from citizen groups, including Preserve Chatham County, the Chatham County Commissioners have terminated their plans to site a new landfill.  The commissioners have asked their Solid Waste Advisory Council to explore alternatives, including Waste-to-Energy.  For more, click here.

DOT Needs Rural Input on Bike and Walking Paths

DOT is seeking input on bike and walking paths from residents of rural Orange County.  They would like to clarify how needs of rural residents differ from those of town residents.  Please consider responding to DOT's survey.  It is estimated to take 10 minutes of your time.  To view the survey, click here. 
Other Happenings

Congratulations to rural county residents who have been appointed to county boards:
  • Mike Hughes, environmental engineer and OCV board member, has been appointed to the Commission for the Environment 
  • Allan Green of Woodcrest Heritage Farm has been appointed to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board
  • Stan Cheren, OCV board member and member of RENA/CEER, has been appointed to the Solid Waste Advisory Board in order to improve rural representation.

Special thanks and best wishes to Teresa Smith and Harry's Market.  Harry's is closing after two years of serving the White Cross community.  Remember the WTS fundraiser held at Harry's in December of 2008?  Click here.   

Thank you all for the good wishes and generous donations to our work on behalf of the rural community of Orange County.  As always, please continue to share comments and suggestions as they arise.

Bonnie Hauser, President                  
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.  - Margaret Mead
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