Residents Launch Grassroots Campaign Against Proposed Rail Yard
Posted July 30, 2007 10:13 p.m. EDT
Updated July 31, 2007 6:40 a.m. EDT
Clayton, N.C. — Wake County residents launched a grassroots campaign against the construction of a rail yard near Clayton, but railroad company officials said the situation is just a misunderstanding.
The debate centers on 100 acres that stretch along U.S. Highway 70 from Guy Road in Wake County to the Johnston County line.
Neighbors said they worry that the North Carolina Railroad Co. will use its legal authority to take over wetlands and then build a rail yard on them.
Rail officials said their only plans in the area are to improve existing lines.
Llewellyn Beaman, a Johnston County homeowner, described the atmosphere among residents as "fear, just the fear of what is to happen here."
Some neighbors formed a group, which first met Saturday, and launched a Web site to fight the project. The group plans to put up signs and hand out flyers in coming weeks, said Beaman.
She and other neighbors don't want all the development that goes along with a rail yard, said Beaman.
"There is a lot of lights. There is noise. There is potential pollution," said Beaman.
Scott Saylor, NC Railroad president, said that his company considered moving a rail yard to the area, but did not get much interest in the project.
"We don't have any plans to take land or condemn property in eastern Wake County," said Saylor.
Beaman said the company tried to buy her 19-acre farm with an offer that included language about condemnation. That clause asserts the railroad's authority to condmen her land, but offers to purchase it to avoid the time and money of a legal battle.
Saylor said the offer contains standard contract language. The railroad is always looking for land and thought that Beaman wanted to sell, said Saylor.
The NC Railroad Co. owns and manages more than 300 miles of rail that crosses the state from Morehead City on the coast to Charlotte. Sixty freight trains and eight passenger trains travel on its lines daily.