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Members of the Hunter's Chapel AME Church, Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church and the People for Progress Committee submitted a letter to the Board of Orange County Commissioners with some revisions to a new transportation improvement plan that affects the Buckhorn Rd. area.

A transportation improvement plan now in place for Efland, Buckhorn and Mebane has been amended thanks to a meeting between Orange County Planning and Inspections and concerned citizens of the Efland-Buckhorn community.

Orange County Planning and Inspections Director Craig Benedict scheduled a meeting with members of Hunter's Chapel AME Church, Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church and the People for Progress Committee on March 12 to discuss the Efland-Buckhorn-Mebane Access Management Plan (EBMAMP) before the Orange County Commissioners (BOCC) voted on the plan on April 2.

The meeting came after the N.C. Dept. of Transportation (DOT) and the North Carolina Railroad (NCRR) produced a traffic separation study that proposed rerouting Buckhorn Road further east — taking away a railroad intersection but veering the road closer to the churches.

“There were three plans that would separate the road and railroad traffic,” Benedict said. “The county recommended the option least affecting the churches but the churches still weren't sure about the impact of it.”

Around 50 people showed up to the meeting to voice their concerns.

After the Orange County Planning and Inspections team heard some of the complaints, they submitted the comments to the DOT and NCRR and pulled the reroute from the plan, leaving any changes to the intersection out entirely.

 “We got a letter of support from the churches [and the committee] to take it out of the plan that we gave to the BOCC,” Benedict said. “And the EBMAMP passed with that revision.”

The EBMAMP allows for various improvements in the six-mile-by-one-mile area it covers — from road widening to intersection reworks to new frontage roads.

The plan will be implemented over a number of years as new developments come to the area, establishing a set of rules pertaining to transportation and roadways that must be followed by future developers. 

In the letter asking for the removal of the reroute from the EBMAMP, the churches and the People for Progress Committee also asked that the reroute not be suggested in the future.

According to Benedict, the BOCC does not have the power to meet the church’s request, but the reroute is off the table for now and Orange County has promised to inform the church of any future resurrections of the strategy.

“I knew Mount Moriah’s pastor from years ago when my agency put water and sewer in the area and I wanted to go directly to the source,” Benedict said. “We had a meeting and got good attendance and good questions and that’s the way democratic government should work.