SELMA, N.C. (WNCN) – Thousands of people in Johnston County are supporting locals who say they’ll be impacted by the new CSX project.
They’re taking their message to social media – and to county leaders.
The CSX project is scheduled to build a huge shipping terminal in Selma. It was announced Jan. 14, and the company said it will be an intermodal transportation hub that will create hundreds of jobs.
The estimated cost of the project is $272 million.
But some in the county, like Trent Lassiter, are trying to stop the approaching trains.
The land owned by Lassiter and his family goes back to colonial times. Now, CSX wants it as part of a 450-acre cargo hub the company is planning to build.
“The only option open to us was negotiating a price,” Lassiter said. “But it didn’t matter to us because the farm isn’t for sale.”
When Lassiter and his neighbors were told by a railroad representative that they would have to sell, Lassiter got upset.
“There was more anger than anything,” he said. “How could anybody do this?”
Lassiter said his fight with the railroad isn’t just about him and his business any longer. To him, it’s about his neighbors and the community.
“People have called me on a couple of occasions and said, ‘Look, we can cut your farm out of this. If we do that will you be quiet?’” Lassiter said. “And I said, ‘It’s good news and I appreciate that, but no, it’s grown much bigger than just me. I’m going to fight for our whole community.”
Others who might be affected by the land-taking believe they should be able to say no.
“If a private outfit coms looking to buy your land and they offer you some money – that should be it,” said Robert Wiggs. “They ought to go down the road and find something else.”
But the railroad says it has to have that site.
“This site in Johnston County is ideally suited to be a logistics hub from a rail perspective,” said Louis Renjel of CSX.
Lassiter said Gov. Pat McCrory has talked with him and his Facebook page about the fight has thousands of likes.
The railroad says it wants to be flexible about its plans..
.”Nothing is carved in stone,” Renjel said. “We want to have a dialogue. One of the things we’re concerned about is a handful of landowners pulling the plug on this before it gets started.”
On Wednesday night, the Johnston County Commissioners will hold a special closed-door meeting with lawyers to talk economic development. Sources told WNCN that the CSX project will be discussed.