Norfolk Southern Corp. and Swanton Township have come to an agreement related to the Swanton-area staging yard project.
The township will support the closing of Scott Road at the tracks. Norfolk Southern will pay the township over $2 million.
A statement from Swanton Township elected officials said the “resolution was in the best interest of the township and its residents based on a number of circumstances.”
Those included Norfolk Southern purchasing the property from willing landowners and the Village of Swanton and Swanton school board not collaborating with the township regarding the railroad project.
“Based on the circumstances and general understanding that the township was essentially left to proceed on its own at a significant financial cost, we worked to negotiate a resolution that was in the best interests of Swanton Township,” said the statement.
“After many months of requesting a collaborative approach to the proposed railroad project with the Village of Swanton and Swanton Local School Board and not securing a commitment we came to the understanding that the Township was essentially left to proceed on its own,” said Swanton Township Trustee Jeff Michael. “Proceeding would be at a significant financial cost, cost prohibitive if undertaken alone, and potentially unsuccessful without a unified front. If the event of an unsuccessful resolution we had to protect the Township from the Village of Swanton annexing the rail yard, so we worked to negotiate a resolution that was in the best interests of Swanton Township.”
Norfolk Southern will pay the township $2.5 million and make efforts to minimize visual impacts of the railyard with $50,000 in landscaping.
The railroad will also provide annual payments to the township comparable to an income tax for 12-21 jobs for a period of up to 30 years.
The money the township receives will be used to further prevent annexation of the township by the Village of Swanton, according to Michael. “Swanton Township already has a no annexation understanding and contractual language in place with the Village of Whitehouse and the City of Toledo,” he said.
Norfolk Southern will donate a 2-acre parcel of real estate off of Scott Road to the township. Also, as part of the agreement, Norfolk Southern will not participate with the village in any annexation efforts, an issue that has come between the township and village over the years.
The railroad continues to move forward with the project.
“Norfolk Southern is excited about moving forward to completion on its Swanton facility project, and remains committed to maintaining a constructive dialogue with the Swanton community,” said Dave Pidgeon. “This project is important to meet transportation demand, promote efficiency in rail operations within Lucas County and in the region, and optimize interstate rail transportation.”
The project calls for the 7 additional tracks, 4 of which will be capabable of holding trains up to 130 cars long. It will be used to stage trains as they wait to move on to their destination.
Village of Swanton Administrator Rosanna Hoelze said she Friday she had not viewed the agreement in full and had no comment on it.
Hoelzle did say that “the Village of Swanton stands by its resolution that was passed in November 2016 opposing the project.”
Reach Drew Stambaugh at 419-335-2010