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Johnston County commissioners oppose CSX cargo hub plans

Posted January 20

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— Tension has been mounting over the past week about a proposed CSX cargo hub in Johnston County. Dozens of residents rose up in protest of the plan, arguing it would force them out of their homes and businesses, but Wednesday night, county commissioners revealed they are on the residents’ side.

CSX said last week that it plans to build a $272 million terminal, referred to as the Carolina Connector, or CCX, east of Selma. The terminal would connect directly to the main CSX network and would provide a major transshipment point for container cargo to and from North Carolina ports.

The chambers were packed Wednesday night and the Board of Commissioners meeting that started off with people prepared to go toe-to-toe with commissioners ended with applause.

“The Johnston County Board of Commissioners does not support plans for CCX at the footprint the project’s advocates had envisioned,” said a statement from the board. “The board continues to believe that CCX represents economic development opportunities for Eastern North Carolina, including Johnston County, and hopes that alternative sites can be identified that reconciles the project’s location needs with the desires of property owners that are willing to sell their land.”

Chairman Tony Braswell said the Board is transparent and on the community’s side. When referring to CSX, he said the board does not support “strong-arm” tactics.

“There hasn’t been any rezoning process. There hasn’t been any incentive public hearing process, so why would they buy land and not know that they can finally use it,” said Braswell.

Now with county leaders publicly opposing the plan, people who live in the area said they want to see more.

“Don’t force us to sell properties that have been in families for hundreds of years that we don’t want to sell,” said landowner Harold Pittman. “If they get willing buyers, more power to them.”

CSX released a statement Wednesday urging commissioners to “continue an open dialogue about this economic development opportunity,” noting that the project is only in the seventh day of a multi-year process. They said that the project could produce 300 short-term construction jobs as well as 300 additional permanent jobs with CSX. The company also welcomed the opportunity to meet with the community to discuss the project.

“Our company wants to listen and we believe that by working with the commissioners and concerned citizens, we can reach a mutually beneficial accommodation- one that reflects Johnston County’s values and creates economic opportunities.”

Residents say that’s not quite enough yet.

“We’ll continue to fight until we hear something higher. We have to,” said landowner Jennifer Edwards.


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  • Fenway O'Donnell Jan 21, 2016
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    Sure would hate to see this huge economic boost to Eastern NC go away.

  • Janet Ghumri Jan 21, 2016
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    There's definitely some back room hand shaking going on. States /cities offer incentives for growth all the time (tax breaks, usually) for companies to relocate or expand in certain areas. The landowners are the least of their concerns, due to Eminent Domain. The Powers that be don't have to worry about laying out big bucks for the land, they're more concerned with

  • Barbara Hatcher Jan 21, 2016
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    Yes, I understand eminent domain - doesn't mean I agree with it. Just because the government can and will seize your property and you have no recourse or option to fight it does not make it right. If you own it, in my opinion, you should not be forced to sell! If they (industry/govt) makes you an offer that you are willing to take, so be it. No one should stop you from selling (as I've seen some argue). But if you don't want to sell your family farm that has been a part of your family for generations, I don't think you should be forced to give it up. That's my opinion.

  • Michael Respole Jan 21, 2016
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    View quoted thread

    thats why there are eminent domain laws on the books, validated by the Supreme Court. So the not in my backyard people that only think of me me me can't hold back progress or a project that has significant value to the general public.

  • Larry Alston Jan 21, 2016
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    Sounds to me that the Johnston County Commissioners are back-tracking. I don't see any possibility that CSX, or any other major corporation, deciding to locate anywhere wthout some "invite" from local authorities. I feel sure that there was some sort of "feelers" put out before this announcement.

  • Barbara Hatcher Jan 21, 2016
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    "How about you step up rather than watch the grass grow on your family farm, it is not just about you."

    Actually, it IS about them!! If they own the property, pay their taxes, and choose to sit and watch the grass grow, that is THEIR choice and right. When did it become the responsibility of a person to be responsible for everyone else? If you don't care for the economic condition in Selma, you are welcome to move somewhere more commercial. Some people prefer the slower-paced country life. Some people enjoy the history of their family homeplace. If they WANT to sell, then by all means, sell. But if they don't, they should not be forced to!! I'm sure if CSX and govt looked hard enough, they could find an alternative location where people ARE willing to sell.

    It just baffles the mind that there are people who feel entitled to and justified in forcing someone off of their land and out of their homes for any reason.

  • Stan Creech Jan 21, 2016
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    Good for them. CSX find somewhere else to build the hub.

  • BigWillie Johnson Jan 21, 2016
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    First the facts need to be clarified. It appears the major problem is people fear eminent domain purchases will not give them what their property is worth. If CSX, the government agencies and the landowners would caucus, perhaps they could agree to a solution. This an opportunity for jobs, and economic development, but the facts need to be clarified and the people assured they would be offered fair market value for their land. If it is another government land grab, for private gain and benefit of CSX, then I would have to agree with the property owners and the commissioners.

  • Uben Had Jan 21, 2016
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    Anyone who has ever dealt with the rail road, or any public utility, or any town will know you are never compensated for the fair market value of your property. I expect the people who are forced to sell will get pennies on the dollar of what their property is worth.
    According to the radio this morning, CSX has already approached property owners telling them they will be forced to sell their homes and farms and their is nothing they can do about it.

  • Michael Respole Jan 21, 2016
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    The county commissioners don't see a problem with endless subdivision approvals and Sheetz gas stations on every corner of Western Johnston County. Isn't it time the other parts of the county to step up and add to the tax base ? I recently drove on I-81 in PA & wondered why their were huge distribution centers in the middle of nowhere, now I realize it was due to the CTX hub. The other parts of the county are always complaining that all the economic development takes place in the western part of the county. They selected the site due to proximity to the railroad line and highways. How about you step up rather than watch the grass grow on your family farm, it is not just about you. County Commissioners need to stop pandering to the few and have some vision about economic development.