Neighbors of dump celebrate its closure

mschultz@newsobserver.comJune 30, 2013 

— Gertrude Rogers Nunn may have waited longer than anyone in the group outside the Orange County Landfill on Saturday afternoon.

The 91-year-old resident of the historically black Rogers Road community outside Chapel Hill has lived beside the county’s trash about 40 years.

Now the wait is over. The county commissioners officially closed the landfill, effective Sunday, and have begun trucking the county’s garbage to a Durham transfer station until they can find a long-term solution.

On Saturday, residents who have fought repeated extensions and put up with the odor, noise, traffic and vermin during the four decades celebrated.

“Are you kidding?” Rogers Nunn asked, sitting in a chair beside the landfill gate. “Trucks, big trucks. And don’t forget about the vultures. They come roost on the top of my house.”

The county closed the landfill even though there is more room in it after residents repeatedly asked for closure. The decision will cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, possibly more, as local governments pay for transporting the county’s garbage for more distant disposal.

“Some things are more important than money,” county commissioners Chairman Barry Jacobs said at Saturday’s celebration. “Not to be glib, but since I’ve been on the board we’ve been making a promise.”

Local governments are also compensating the neighbors, including by bringing public water and sewer to the area.

They’re also looking for permanent trash fix, perhaps a regional waste-to-energy solution.

On Saturday, though, the focus was on the present.

“This community has stood by and fought for 40 years,” Commissioner Renee Price said. “The real applause goes to the folks who have lived through all this.”

Rogers Nunn wasn’t sure the day would ever come.

“I did hope something would transpire before ...” she said softly, and put a wrinkled hand to her chest.

Schultz: 919-932-2003

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