by Jordan Green

Future of Cone Boulevard extension uncertain as council moves to reopen landfill

With at least two members of Greensboro City Council sidelined because of conflicts of interest, a straw poll last week indicated that a majority of council favors choosing among three private companies proposing to reopen the White Street Landfill. Proponents of reopening the landfill such as District 5 Councilwoman Trudy Wade are talking about improving transportation and water-sewer infrastructure to drive economic development near the landfill. Although some might view that as a cynical ploy to soften the blow to area residents, opponents such as at-large Councilman Robbie Perkins, District 1 Councilwoman Dianne Bellamy-Small and District 2 Councilman Jim Kee would likely support such investments.

Transportation Director Adam Fischer delved into the numbers and viability of improving transportation infrastructure around the landfill.

The first order of business would be construction of the Cone-Nealtown Connector, which Greensboro voters approved in a 2000 bond referendum at a cost of $8.5 million. Right-of-way acquisition could begin in August, and construction could begin by next July, but only if the city reprioritizes its current transportation bond spending or borrows more money.

The extension of the Urban Loop from US Highway 70 to US Highway 29 is another significant part of the equation, albeit one largely under the control of state government. The current schedule provided by Fisher has rightof-way acquisition taking place over the next couple years and construction happening from 2014 to 2017.

Wade has expressed interest in seeing Cone Boulevard extended along the north side of Buffalo Creek to the Urban Loop for the purpose of spurring economic development. She said the city might consider using its share of the dissolved city-county joint water and sewer fund to pay for improvements. During a recent community budget meeting she pulled at-large Councilman Danny Thompson aside to discuss the initiative.

Gate City Waste Services, a local company that is angling for the contract to operate White Street Landfill, has distributed a prospective map that shows two “future economic development areas” along the future Cone Boulevard extension, one of which is anchored by a proposed interchange with the Urban Loop. Gate City Waste Service’s map also shows an alternative entrance to the landfill at Rankin Mill Road for the purpose of relieving the burden on Nealtown Farms residents of having waste trucks rumble past their neighborhood.

The price tag for the Cone Boulevard extension and interchange is $34.5 million, according to Fischer. The extension and interchange are not included in plans for the Urban Loop, Fischer said, “due to lack of definitive plans to extend Cone Boulevard at the time that NCDOT completed the environmental impact study in 1994.”

Fischer outlined two options, neither of them appealing: “Severely” delay construction of the loop so that a new environmental impact study can be conducted, or build the interchange after construction of the loop. In any case, a funding source has not been established for the project. Fischer said the Cone Boulevard extension and Urban Loop interchange has been included in the Greensboro Urban Area Thoroughfare plan since the early 1970s.

Council was expected to vote on narrowing its list of solid waste vendors to Gate City Waste Services, Advanced Disposal and Waste Industries on Tuesday. The three companies are proposing to reopen the landfill.

Suburban growth creates need for redistricting of guilford county commission

Suburban growth will require redistricting of Guilford County Commission The district lines for the Guilford County Commission will have to be redrawn based on the 2010 Census, which recorded uneven population growth, County Attorney Mark Payne said. Five out of 11 precincts had strong population growth and will likely have to shed precincts to be rebalanced.

The county saw a suburban growth pattern in the last decade, with three outlying districts demonstrating the most dramatic growth. Payne said District 2, which covers north High Point and is represented by Republican Bill Bencini; District 3, covering the northwest corner of the county and represented by Republican Linda Shaw; and District 4, represented by Democrat Kirk Perkins in the northeast all saw population growth exceeding 30 percent. District 5, running south to southeast and represented by Republican Billy Yow, grew by 17 percent. District 9, drawn to ensure minority representation under the federal Voting Rights Act and represented by Democrat Carolyn Coleman, grew by 13 percent.

Payne said state statute holds that if there is substantial inequality of population the affected board may redefine its districts, adding that federal case law has established that if the variance from smallest to largest district is 10 percent or more redistricting must be done to ensure equal representation. He said the first step will be for the county commission to determine the appropriate process for redistricting.

Redistricting is “discretionary under the statute, but it’s not discretionary under the Voting Rights Act, in my opinion.” Payne said.

Greensboro moves to phase out North Buffalo wastewater treatment plan Just as the Greensboro Council is poised to reopen the White Street Landfill, the city is moving to close another facility that has been a thorn in the side of area residents: the North Buffalo Wastewater Treatment Plant, also on White Street.

Water Resources Director Allan Williams told City Manager Rashad Young in an April 29 memo that his department is actively seeking permits from the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources to cease operations at the North Buffalo facility and consolidate operations at the TZ Osborne

Wastewater Treatment Plan. Williams projects that the North Buffalo could be closed in 18 to 24 months.

The North Buffalo facility was built in 1938. Williams said consolidation would help the city meet increasingly stringent regulations on the discharge of nitrogen and phosphorous by eliminating a discharge point. “The other benefit to the community,” he said, “is the elimination of a water reclamation facility that is in close proximity to residential and commercial areas.”

GTA fare hike proposed, along with elimination of domestic shuttle

The Greensboro Transit Authority Board has reconsidered a plan to reduce evening fixed route service by an hour — part of an initial proposal to save the city $241,488. As an alternative, the board voted on April 12 to recommend increasing fares from $1.30 to $1.50 to increase revenue by $70,000 for the next budget year. The board also recommends elimination of the Irving Park and Starmount shuttles to save $95,591. A staff memo indicates that “this is a special shuttle service that primarily provides transportation for domestic workers in Irving Park and Starmount. Only seven people/ day use this shuttle.”