Mayor Linwood Parker says he believes CSX is no longer interested in a intermodal terminal in Four Oaks. Parker made the comments during Monday night’s town council meeting.
Teresa Allen of Oliver’s Grove Church Road addressed the board saying she was concerned if CSX would locate in the area, landowners whose property was not purchased by the railroad but in close proximity to the site, would see their property taxes increase. Allen said a representative at the Johnston County Tax Office had told her earlier Monday if her land was rezoned as commercial it could increase her property tax bill by 800%.
Mayor Parker said that would not happen. “It is a moot point. I don’t think we’re going to get the railroad.”
“The railroad in the next little while, not based on any conversation they have had with me and I haven’t spoken with them since April 22nd, if they come they ought to make sure people that are affected are paid. We believe you ought to be compensated and compensated well,” Mayor Parker told Allen. He said CSX would not agree to pay $25,000 per acre then two times the value of a person’s home then have to come in to have a “court fight.”
“As a whole the community has said no, not everyone. It will be over in a few weeks. Eminent domain has never been a part of this conversation, other than they had a right to it.”
Parker said if the Four Oaks Town Board was in favor of eminent domain, Cabela’s would be located on Keen Road next to I-95, instead they are in Garner. “Your board has done the best it can and will continue to do.”
“This town would be a lot better off if the railroad chose us. But I don’t think that will happen.” Parker said. He later added, “If I was betting tonight, I think we will not get it.”
Parker praised the work of former NC DOT Board member and local business Durwood Stephenson, Representative Leo Daughtry and local banker Harold Keen for their hard work and commitment to Four Oaks, including work on the CSX project.
The mayor said if CSX were to locate in Four Oaks and agreed to annexation they would pay $1 million a year in taxes to the town. Without the tax base, Four Oaks will have to find alternate methods to replace an old water tower at a projected cost of $500,000, find millions of dollars to repair the aging water and sewer system.
For the first time, Mayor Parker mentioned he had been working with county commissioners to attempt to land a new high school in Four Oaks should CSX locate between Four Oaks and Benson. Parker said he had asked commissioners to consider earmarking any tax revenue they receive from CSX to pay for a new high school, where students would be able to attend first through 12th grade schools all without have to leave town. Without CSX the mayor said there is no high school, no additional tax base, no jobs and no new customers for the towns small businesses.