Johnston County commissioners oppose CSX cargo hub plans
Posted January 20, 2016
Johnston County, N.C. — 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.