CSX seeks rezoning of Farrell Road land to use as railyard

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Jan. 27—CSX Transportation is seeking the rezoning of 244 acres on Farrell Road to use as a railroad yard.

A public hearing on the request was one of three held during Monday's meeting of the Lee County Board of Commissioners meeting, but no action was taken on any of the proposals.

The Farrell Road property between Osgood and Lower Moncure roads is owned by John W. Bullard of Fayetteville, is currently zoned for Residential Agricultural use, but CSX is wants it rezoned for Heavy Industrial use, according to Planning Administrator Amy McNeill, who presented the request.

Railroad tracks form the boundaries on the east and west side of the parcel

A portion of the tract is woodlands. The county's long-range plan calls for it to be classified as countryside.

Tom Hepler of Raleigh, a spokesman for CSX, said the tracks are part of a "major" north-south rail route. A cemetery on the property wouldn't be disturbed, and it would remain accessible.

Jimmy Randolph, CEO of the Sanford Area Growth Alliance, spoke in favor of the request, calling the proposed rail yard "a unique asset for Lee County development from SAGA's perspective."

Two residents who live nearby spokes against the proposals.

John Wood, who lives on Post Office Road, said he has several hundred feet near the site and voiced concerns over noise, effects on existing roads and property values.

"I'm just not at all sure I'd like to be next to a heavy industrial park," Wood said.

Jeff Couch lives on Post Office Road on the west side the tract. He said he had concerns as well.

Among them are noise, pollution and trash that isn't collected. Couch said on one occasion replaced rail ties were tossed onto his land and not picked up.

Another concern is the effect of removing trees and growth, especially on the environment, Couch said.

The land is home to deer, turkeys, foxes, squirrels and other animals. Removing woodlands would destroy the ecosystems and force animals from their habitat, Couch said.

Planning department staff noted that the proposed use is not recommended in the long-range plan, which calls for the designation as Countryside. "However, it is a unique location given the access to two railroads and a public road, which may warrant a reasonable expectation that the property would be used for a commercial purpose," the recommendation said.

The final decisions rests with the commissioners to decide how the county should grow and whether the board is OK with the proposed use, according to the recommendation.

A second hearing was held on a request from Circle K Stores Inc. for the rezoning of .45 acres on Perkinson Road from Rural Residential to Highway Commercial use. The site is adjacent to the existing Circle K on Hawkins Avenue at Perkinson Road. The application says it will be used in the future for a redevelopment of the site.

The third hearing was on a request from Mark Mitchell, owner of Mitchell Paving LLC, to have four adjacent tracts on the east side of Lower Moncure Road, about a half-mile north of Ragan Road, rezoned from Residential Agricultural use to a Conditional Zoning District. He plans to use it as a garage for his paving equipment, he said.

As a conditional district, it would have its own standards. It also gives the property owner the freedom to develop his or her own unique list of permitted uses and design standards," the recommendation said.

Requests to have property designated as its own zoning district, as Mitchell is proposing, is a negotiated process, according to application documents. It allows the commissioners and/or Planning Board to ask for changes in the proposed plan, the documents said. Such changes must be accepted by the rezoning applicant before final action is taken.

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