Rail transfer terminal asks crossing be closed

FAIRFIELD TOWNSHIP – Trustees voted to continue obtaining information about closing the Esterly Drive railroad crossing and referred an 86-acre annexation proposal south of Columbiana to their legal counsel during Monday’s meeting.

The railroad crossing proposal was the first business following the re-organizational meeting in which Trustee Bob Hum was re-elected chairman and Trustee Carl Garwood was voted vice-chairman for 2013.

Attorney Mark Hutson made the proposal to eliminate of the railroad crossing off state Route 344 for Buckeye Transfer LLC.

The company is converting the old National Refractories property into a “full-service” truck and transfer terminal that will service the oil and gas industry.

He said the track extends around the back of the facility and meets Esterly Drive at Cherry Fork.

Hutson explained the crossing needed to be closed to make it usable to maneuver cars for transloading minerals and aggregate; Norfolk Southern said it had to be closed.

He said that was why they attended the trustee meeting.

He explained “this project and others down the road” to service the gas and oil industry require the uni-trains which enter the facility and take several days to unload.

Hutson said there was no demonstrable need for the crossing.

The Ohio Railroad Commission and Ohio Public Utilities Commission have requirements and the township will need to hold a public hearing on the issue. Hutson explained the ORC wanted to know what the township wanted in return for Esterly Drive if it agreed to close it.

He said the exchange could include upgrading another crossing in the township and Chairman Bob Hum wondered where the traffic would go and wanted to review any traffic

studies made on the nearby roads.

Hutson said that Buckeye Transfer will be affected the most the closing and didn’t know of any traffic studies but pointed out that Trustee Barry Miner had worked for the Ohio Department of Transportation and might be aware of some.

Miner said he was interested in seeing a traffic count and Road Supervisor Mel Miller said he would check with the county engineer’s office today to see if there are any studies.

Miner said it would be beneficial if the township could negotiate for two crossings to be upgraded while noting the township has been a proponent of Buckeye Transfer’s actions on the site.

Attorney Lisa Wallace, representing Buckeye Transfer, said they came to “plant the seed” and get the ball rolling for further expansion at the facility.

“We’re not here expecting anything overnight,” she said.

Regarding the annexation, trustees took no action other than refer it to its outside counsel, Attorney Alan Wenger. Miner said the city wants the land for a new water treatment plant on the south side.

In other business, trustees advised Miller to check into a fixing the current copier but not to exceed a certain price. If it couldn’t be fixed for that price, Hum said, they would have to go in another direction.

Also Zoning Officer Kymberly Seabolt said she issued a handful of building permits while noting “it looks like the housing market is picking up … new residential construction … it’s nice to see,” she said.

Larry Shields can be reached at lshields@salemnews.net