bee installation at Harry's
February 2011 Newsletter

Dear Neighbor:

As winter gives way to spring, rural Orange County faces important challenges and opportunities.  The upcoming UDO hearing provides rural citizens a chance to influence the future development of our community, farms, and commercial areas.  We are continuing to track OWASA's actions related to forestry and working on ways to improve safety during hunting season.    

For that and more, here's what's news for February:  
In This Issue
Important: Rural Zoning is Subject of Public Hearing on UDO
Objections Mounting to OWASA's Forestry Plan
Crime Watch: Report Solicitors to 911
Dog Deer Hunting Ban Blocked by Lobbyists
Taxpayers to Subsidize Plans for Nuclear Power Plants?
Whitted Family History Presentation

Important:  Rural Zoning is Subject of Public Hearing on UDO 

Please join leaders from OCV and other community groups at a public hearing on the new Unified Development Ordinance (UDO).  The hearing will be held on Monday, February 28, at 7:00 PM, at the Department of Social Services, Hillsborough Commons, 113 Mayo Street, Hillsborough (the old Walmart building).

The UDO is a consolidation of all of Orange County's zoning ordinances into a single document.  The first phase, now being finalized, lays the foundation for future zoning decisions in rural Orange County.

Changes have been kept to a minimum in this first release.  However, there are changes that make our rural communities more vulnerable to random sprawl and unwanted municipal development. 


Of greatest concern are new "Conditional Districts", which replace "Planned Development".  Conditional Districts are used to override existing zoning.  In the UDO, any parcel of 5 acres or more can be rezoned to commercial, industrial, or other category that may be incompatible with the comprehensive plan or rural character.  Unlike Planned Development, a special use permit is not required for Conditional Districts. 
Conditional Districts offer flexibility for the dense economic development districts along I-85.  In the rural buffer, Conditional Districts can only be used for professional and other uses that are compatible with adjacent residential communities.  Use in the rural areas is essentially unrestricted.  (Of course, because they are a form of rezoning, a public hearing is required and the application must be approved by the BoCC.)
OCV leaders are seeking ways to tighten up the UDO for the rural areas.    We support an overall desire to approve the baseline version and start working on new zoning for the rural areas.  We believe that simple changes will strengthen the ordinance until long-term plans and zoning can be developed for the rural areas.

Please support us at the public hearing, the evening of Monday February 28.


For more on the UDO, click here
Objections Mounting to OWASA's Forestry Plan

As you know, OWASA is considering a draft plan to log sections of 1,900 acres that surround Cane Creek Reservoir.  Now that they are hearing from non-forestry professionals, opposition is mounting.

Most notable are recent comments from the NC Natural Heritage Program (NC NHP).  NC NHP suggests that OWASA focus on restoring or accelerating the restoration of a high-quality, diverse forest, allowing for the succession of a mature hardwood forest.  NHP notes that OWASA's reservoir land is a significant natural heritage area and a vital habitat connection between the Haw and Neuse watersheds.

NHP believes that if logging occurs, it should be limited to pure pine forests that are accessible from existing roads.  In addition, the plan should include the elimination of invasive species that move in and take over areas in the wake of logging.

NHP warns that, "Any limited ecological benefit that could result from the most careful silviculture (
the art and science of producing and tending a forest) would be offset by the impact of logging roads and equipment needed to carry out such an operation."

For the full NHP report, click here.


NHP's comments are consistent with the recommendation from the Clean Water Coalition that OWASA pursue a minimally invasive plan that is focused on removal of debris and disease.  OWASA's current plan involves logging roads and platforms, heavy equipment, and potential fuel leaks -- all of which introduce unnecessary risks to water quality.


We are researching communities that have discontinued logging near critical water supplies due to the risk of contamination from heavy equipment (OWASA references Duke Forest and other forestry operations, but lacks references to logging near reservoirs).   For example, a logging moratorium was recently authorized for the Quabbin Reservoir in central Massachusetts due to logging mistakes. For more, click here.


OWASA's forestry planning continues under the control of forestry consultants from True North , who would manage the project if it moves forward.  OWASA has committed to holding any action on the plan until both their staff and consultants from True North have had the opportunity to respond to comments, and have presented them in a report to the OWASA Board. 

Crime Watch:  Report Solicitors to 911 

Many burglaries originate with solicitors, strangers seeking directions, or other scams designed by criminals to learn more about your home and how to break into it.  Most burglaries happen during the day, when no one is home. 

Unlike the towns, Orange County does not issue permits for solicitors who sell door-to-door.  That means that there have been no background checks  on solicitors who show up at your door.  

The Sheriff's office suggests the following if a stranger shows up at your home:
  • Call a friend while you answer the door -- or don't answer the door at all.
  • Take note of the vehicle's color, style, age, and markings -- as well as the license plate, if you can.
  • Report the incident to 911 immediately.

Even if the visitor is innocent, the sheriff wants to know.  Your call will give the sheriff's office important information regarding possible subjects, especially if a burglary occurs nearby.  Of course, if you have a home alarm, use it.


Deputy Butch Clark ( has asked that you continue to maintain an active crime watch in your community.  Please contact Butch if you or your neighbors would like to be added to his e-mail list. 


To help communities,  Butch has added suspicious activity to his Crime  Reports e-mails. 

Dog Deer Hunting Ban Blocked by Lobbyists   

Despite unanimous support from County Commissioners, Orange County's dog deer hunting ban was blocked in the NC Senate by a dog hunting lobbyist.

0n behalf of Orange County citizens and the BoCC, Senator Kinnaird sponsored a Senate bill to ban dog deer hunting in Orange County.  Two counties facing similar challenges to public safety and personal property asked to be added to Orange County's bill.  Dog deer hunting is already banned south of I-85, in all of Durham, Chatham, Alamance, and Wake counties -- and in all counties west of Orange County.

The bill was stalled by Senator Pate (Greene, Pitt, and Wayne counties) at the request of dog deer hunting lobbyist Joe McCleese.  Senator Berger (Guilford and Rockingham counties), President Pro Tem of the NC Senate, asked Senator Kinnaird to pursue the action by way of a local ordinance.  Representative Bill Faison has taken no action on this issue.

Northern county residents appreciate the efforts of Sheriff Pendergrass and his team to mitigate problems created by trespassing dogs and firearms discharged near homes.  The Sheriff has increased enforcement of trespassing and loitering ordinances. 

OCV extends a special thanks to Senator Kinnaird for her responsive handling of this important issue.  Thanks are also due to Commissioner Foushee for representing Orange County citizens and elected officials before the legislature.

Please contact Steve Graf if you would like to be kept informed of developments regarding this issue. 
Taxpayers to Subsidize Plans for Nuclear Power Plants?

Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers is seeking approval from the NC Public Utility Commission to spend over $250 million in preplanning a nuclear power plant in Lee, SC that would serve North and South Carolina.  South Carolina passed legislation in 2007, that allows these costs to be charged to ratepayers -- whether or not the plant is ever built.  Duke Energy is seeking similar legislation in North Carolina.

For more, click here.

The NC Public Utilities Commission is holding an evidentiary hearing on Tuesday, March 15, at 9:00 AM, at the NC Utilities Commission Hearing Room 2115, Dobbs Building, 430 North Salisbury Street, Raleigh.

For more on the hearing, click here.


Whitted Family History Presentation

Friends of the Orange County Public Library would like to invite those of you interested in local history to attend a presentation by Beverly Scarlett.  It will be held in the Meeting Room of the main library on Saturday, February 26, at 2:00 PM.  Judge Scarlett is a member of the Whitted family and has written a chapter in the book 27 Views of Hillsborough about her Whitted family ties.  It promises to be a highly interesting and educational account of local Hillsborough history.  For information on the Friends of the Orange County Public Library, click here.


We'll continue to keep you posted on all fronts, including the county's 2011-2012 budget cycle, which is now getting underway. 
We hope to see you at the public hearing on the Unified Development Ordinance.  Mark it on your calendars -- February 28th, 7:00 PM, in Hillsborough!    

 Bonnie Hauser, President                  
Email Me      
ever doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.  - Margaret Mead
Quick Links