Four Oaks mayor promises fairness to landowners in CSX proposal
Posted April 11, 2016
Four Oaks, N.C. — An overflow crowd came out Monday night to voice both support and opposition for a proposed CSX cargo hub in Johnston County that would bring jobs but could force some to sell their homes.
City Hall chambers were full and dozens more people stood outside during a public hearing about the proposed 450-acre project.
Town leaders said the cargo hub would bring in hundreds of jobs and their intentions are to help the company get the land they need to make the project happen.
Mayor Linwood Parker sent a letter to Gov. Pat McCrory and the railroad company expressing his support for the project, even if it requires emminent domain, which has many in the community concerned for the future of their property.
Parker reiterated his support of the CSX hub, but as he addressed the crowd Monday night, his message took on a very personal tone as he said he never wanted to disappoint the people he considered his friends during the process.
Parker said he will conduct a conference call with a CSX attorney Wednesday, at which time he will push hard for a definitive answer on whether CSX wants to bring the project to Four Oaks. He said he would give them ten days to answer.
Parker believes brining the hub for Four Oaks is a good economic move that will attract more business to the town, but the majority of people in attendance said they don't want to give up their land.
“The majority say no. We’re asking you to stand behind us and support us,” said resident Michelle King, who noted that even if her land is spared, the railroad would create significant noise pollution.
Even with so much uncertainty, Parker promised he would push for the fair treatment of landowners.
“We’re not going to promise you we’re coming and nobody knows besides them now, and I don’t even know that they know, but if we come, we’ll pay the property owners $25,000 per acre” said Parker.