The future of the county’s rural buffer, affordable housing and solid waste are among the issues on the table Wednesday night at the Assembly of Governments meeting.
The annual meeting of the Orange County Board of Commissioners and leaders from the towns of Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough begins at 7 p.m. in the Whitted Building, 300 W. Tryon St. in Hillsborough.
The county’s rural buffer is a 37,248-acre area set aside for low-intensity, mostly residential development that is rural in character. The people who live there do not get urban services like trash pickup, water and sewer.
The Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization predicts more than 14,000 new residents could move into Orange County’s rural buffer by 2040.
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The commissioners are considering allowing several dozen “agricultural support enterprises” in the buffer that could help farm families make more money and stave off pressure from development and property taxes.
All three governments must agree to make changes to the buffer. Carrboro’s Board of Aldermen has raised questions about the types of business that might be allowed, out of concern for protecting the environment and the county’s agricultural heritage. Potential uses include large-scale composting, microbreweries and bed and breakfasts.
The county, for two years, has delayed deciding how to fund its recycling program for the long haul. Meanwhile, the county and towns have closed the Eubanks Road landfill and trucked their trash to Durham waste transfer stations for disposal farther out.
This year, a new Solid Waste Advisory Group – comprising two members from each local government and two UNC representatives – has formed to iron out the details of a new interlocal agreement and start planning for future services. The boards will hear a report from the group Wednesday night and talk about ways they can work together in the future.
The Community Home Trust will update the boards on affordable housing, future transit-related housing opportunities and the nonprofit group’s proposed charter.
Executive director Robert Dowling has said the group’s current funding arrangement with the county and towns is not sustainable. This year’s total local allocation is $397,500.
The boards also could talk about UNC and the UNC Healthcare System’s roles in providing employees with local affordable housing.
2016 bond referendum
The county commissioners are considering a potential $100 million to $150 million bond referendum in 2016 to help pay for various needs, including work on city and county schools’ buildings.
The debt could be issued over 20 years and would represent a 4.89-cent increase in the county’s property tax rate of 85.8 cents for every $100 in property value.
The additional cost to the owner of a home valued at $300,000 would be $146.70.
Orange County last held a bond referendum in 2001. The $75 million bond paid for schools, parks and recreation facilities, senior center projects and affordable housing.