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HomeNewsLocalNorth
Published: Wednesday, 4/19/2006

Possible rail yard has many steamed

BY VANESSA WINANS
BLADE STAFF WRITER

ERIE, Mich. Nobody seems to know much about a railroad yard that may be locating in Erie Township, but it has residents in a dither anyway.

They ve been questioning township board members, particularly supervisor Paul Mikels, about a rail yard being built in the township. At last week s board meeting, some residents accused the board of keeping them in the dark and demanded answers.

Mr. Mikels, who said he knew little about a possible agreement for a rail yard, added he had met with representatives of Monroe County, the state of Michigan, and Canadian National railroad but had agreed not to divulge what was said.

If you are implying we are keeping secrets from the community, you are mistaken, he told resident Phil Cousino, who questioned him about a rail yard during the meeting. We have not kept silence and secrets from the community. We have kept our agreement with the people we met with.

Local businessman Jeff Benore said the Canadian National railroad, with whom he does business, had contacted him regarding a possible rail yard to be located in the area of Bay Creek Road to I-75, and Erie Road to between Luna Pier and Cousino roads. Mr. Benore s business moves containers shipped by rail from Ferndale, Mich., to points south. He said the company had told him such a yard would create 34 jobs.

Canadian National spokesman Gloria Combe said that about a year ago, somebody called our general manager and wanted to discuss our train operations in this area. They had expressed some interest in opening an intermodal terminal at Luna Pier.

The caller spoke of bringing containers from as far away as the port of Vancouver. However, no one has heard anything more from them. The discussions were very short. There s certainly no plan in place to build a terminal there.

Residents at the meeting didn t believe that township officials would know so little.

I am thoroughly concerned about some of the things I ve heard, said resident Pam Cousino. A Realtor has approached my husband direct. I have the potential to lose my home through eminent domain. That you not know more than you do is a disgrace. You have an obligation to us as citizens first and foremost.

Mr. Mikels agreed that the eminent domain issue is important. Under eminent domain, the government has the right to take private property for public use.

Railroads have eminent domain, Mr. Mikels said. What we have control over is some placement, and noise. But if railroads choose to come in here, they have eminent domain. What I m trying to do is maintain some kind of good relationship, so we have some kind of safety net. ... This way we can try to make some kind of plans.

Mr. Mikels referred questions about a rail yard to Bill Morris, head of the Monroe County Industrial Development Corp. Mr. Morris could not be reached for comment.

Contact Vanessa Winans at:vwinans@theblade.comor 419-724-6168.



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