Johnston County Commissioners heard a resounding “no” from opponents to a CSX rail terminal in both Micro and Four Oaks.
During their April monthly meeting held Monday, two residents appeared to express opposition to an intermodal rail terminal being built at either location.
Jennifer Liverman of Selma said she was not only opposed to eminent domain to take property, she said both areas being considered for the 450-acre terminal were too densely populated, would displace too many citizens, and would take away from both communities.
Liverman said reports the terminal would create as many as 1,500 jobs did not take into account how many jobs would be lost by residents leaving the area to flee from the impacts. She added nearby property values would likely plummet, while surrounding homeowners would be subject to negative effects including the terminals 24-7 operation, noise, and all-night lighting. Liverman said she was also opposed to commissioners offering any county incentives to lure CSX to the area.
Commissioner Chairman Tony Braswell clarified Liverman’s comments saying, “Johnston County has not offered any incentive grants or opportunities.”
“We are sympathetic to what you are saying,” Commissioner Chad Stewart stated.
Retired pharmacist and civic leader Jack Austin Jr. of Four Oaks said if the terminal located in Four Oaks he would not lose any land but said he and others would lose the “peaceful way of life” the community now enjoys.
Austin said he has researched the impacts of intermodal terminals, including tractor trailer noise, diesel train engines, and other forms of noise pollution. Austin said he believes the terminal would bring up to 10 trains daily up to 1-1/2 miles long each. He was fearful the long trains could block rail crossings in Four Oaks, leading to delayed response times for the EMS and fire department. And he added, “It would change the residential feel of Four Oaks.”
Austin said his research showed many of the residents near the terminals are sleep deprived and can no longer enjoy the outdoors. He cited one report where a business owner had to power wash their building three times a year to remove train soot from the exterior.
In addition, Austin said the terminal could create up to 1,750 tractor trailer trips a day, clogging local roadways with heavy truck traffic.
Commissioners did not take any action following the comments. CSX has not recently commented on whether they are still considering a location in Johnston County for the $272 million terminal.