CHAPEL HILL – The process to fill the Town Council vacancy created when Penny Rich resigned to take a seat on the Orange County Board of Commissioners officially got under way Monday night.
Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt declared a vacancy, as is required by ordinance, and outlined a plan that could end with Rich’s replacement being named at the council’s Jan. 23 meeting.
“If we can’t it’ll just keep coming up until we do,” Kleinschmidt said.
Any town resident 21 or older may apply to fill the seat.
“That application can come in any form they feel most effective,” Kleinschmidt said. “Generally, that’s done in written form and they have an opportunity, of course, to give a presentation.”
So far, five people have publicly stated an interest in seat, including former councilwoman Sally Greene.
Others who have said they intend to apply for the appointment include Maria Palmer, a minister, mortgage lender Jon DeHart, Planning Board member Amy Ryan and Southern Village resident Gary Kahn.
Only one resident signed up to speak about the vacancy during Monday’s Town Council meeting.
Lynne Kane said the council should not look to the past to fill the vacancy.
“I want to urge everyone to not put a great value on former officers and to look for people who will look to the future and the good and welfare of all of Chapel Hill,” Kane said.
Kleinschmidt responded that whether the council places a value on past experience “will be determined by the vote of individual council members.”
He said residents will have an opportunity to comment on applicants before the council names the selection.
The person chosen will serve out the remainder of Rich’s four-year term, which ends December 2013.
The council last filled a vacancy in 2009.
Councilwoman Donna Bell was chosen from among 12 applicants to complete the term of Bill Strom, who had abruptly resigned his post.
Bell was then elected to the seat in 2011.
-- In other business Monday, the council agreed to a plan to ship its solid waste to Waste Industries’ transfer station in Durham.
The move is in response to a decision by the Orange County Board of Commissioners to close its landfill in June.
Under the proposal, the town would in April begin sending some of its solid waste to the Waste Industries transfer station at 210 Stone Park Ct., near the Durham Freeway and Ellis Road exit, and begin hauling all of its solid waste there on July 1.
Putting the plan into action is expected to cost about $358,600 in additional personnel and operational expenses.
The deal calls for the town to enter into a three-year contract with Waste Industries for use of its transfer station. It also has a couple of one-year extension options.
The town will pay Waste Industries $41 a ton to handle the more than 14,500 tons of solid waste generated by Chapel Hill residents each year.