Last week, Gov. Pat McCrory announced a major economic development coming to Johnston County:
Rail company CSX will build a large shipping hub called the Carolina Connector.
"Over time, the project could bring 1,500 statewide jobs to North Carolina and provide an estimated $329 million in public benefits to the state," the governor's office said.
Just one problem.
"The announcement was issued out of the governor’s office, but residents with land on the proposed site were completely unaware," the Wilson Times reports.
" 'A lot of people in the community were in the dark,' said Trent Lassiter, whose family owns close to 40 acres — including 17 acres dating back to colonial times. 'Not only were we in the dark, but the whole community was in the dark.'
"When Lassiter talked with a CSX representative (last) Thursday morning, he was left with the impression that he had no choice but to sell his land due to eminent domain."
"Eminent domain" are unwelcome words in some places ... including Johnston County.
" 'We’ll never support eminent domain,' Commissioner Jeff Carver said," according to the Times. " 'If the citizens out there don’t want the site to be there, then we won’t support it. What we will try to do is find another site for CSX.' ”
Commissioners voted Wednesday not to support the project as it stands.
Can they stop it? Or is their opposition like the opposition in some counties to fracking — symbolic, but subject to override by the state?
Yet it's embarrassing. Shouldn't there have been better communication from the start so this conflict could have been avoided?
Carolina Journal reports another wrinkle: CSX says “development of the terminal is contingent upon securing an additional $100 million through the state of North Carolina’s Strategic Transportation Investment program.” That grant has not yet been approved.
CJ suggests the governor's announcement was premature. Sounds like it.