Local News

Durham County community could become N.C.’s next town

Posted July 3, 2009 1:20 p.m. EDT
Updated July 3, 2009 7:01 p.m. EDT

— Sisters Kathy and Lisa Roberts have lived in the small, Durham County community of Rougemont most of their lives. The tight-knit, “everybody knows everybody” feel is what they like most about it.

However, some in the area said they want it to officially become a town of its own.

Rougemont, which has about 800 residents, is looking to incorporate to gain access to Roxboro's municipal water system, said Rep. Winkie Wilkins, D-Person, who is sponsoring legislation to make the move possible.

Rougemont's commercial strip on U.S. Highway 501 has no dependable wells because groundwater was contaminated by gas stations that used to operate in the area, Wilkins said.

Roxboro's water lines are about two miles away, but before Rougemont can tap into them, it needs to incorporate to obtain the necessary state and federal grants, he said.

A majority of Rougemont residents signed a petition five years ago to incorporate the town, but organizers eventually abandoned the effort. The Roberts sisters said they don’t support the push.

“When we moved here, Rougemont Road was just a dirt road,” said Kathy Roberts.

“There were dirt roads all around,” Lisa Roberts added.

A few doors down, restaurant owner Mitchell Fogelman said he is in favor of it.

“I think it would be great. I mean, I think it will help the community grow, and, of course, it would help my business grow, so that’s always a plus,” he said.

Fogelman’s bar is using outdoor restrooms and doesn’t have running water.

“Actually, I have two wells on my property, but they’ve been tested and they both have gas in them,” he said.

Wilkins said, by his count, the community has 21 contaminated wells.

“There’s more urgency now than there’s ever been,” he said.

The proposed bill to incorporate Rougemont is in a House committee. If lawmakers pass it, residents could vote in May 2010.