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Commissioners say not so fast on Johnston County railway project

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Some Johnston County homeowners call breathe a sigh of relief after commissioners voiced opposition to a railway plan in its current form.

The Johnston County Board of Commissioners announced its opposition Wednesday night to a controversial CSX transport hub near Selma.

The state says the railyard will create 1,500 new jobs -- but angry residents claim it will cost them their homes.

PREVIOUS REPORT: Residents roiled, commissioners call special meeting

A big sigh of relief was heard Wednesday night from those families who live along that stretch of Johnston County.

The Board of Commissioners called the emergency meeting Wednesday, telling those affected residents that CSX jumped the gun, and that their properties would not be taken away.

"It's just a step in the right direction," Jennifer Edwards said. "It's good."

Edwards was finally smiling again.

After an anxiety-filled six days, Edwards and her neighbors packed inside the Commissioners' boardroom.

"I want to talk to you as a community," said Tony Braswell, chairman of the Johnston County Commissioners.

Edwards and other homeowners finally got the assurances they were looking for.

"This board does not support the current site of the project," Braswell said.

What's an intermodal terminal? You can see for yourself here.

Johnston commissioners made it clear they're not pulling the plug on CSX's plans to build its massive intermodal terminal in the eastern part of the county, but commissioners say no votes have been taken, no zoning's been changed, and it was way too early for CSX representatives to start knocking on doors last Thursday warning residents that they would be forced to sell their long-held properties -- and vacate their land in six months.

"We wanted that community to know we do not condone strong-arm tactics," Braswell said. "I don't know exactly what went wrong; you need to ask the CSX folks. Certainly we had no indication that's what they were going to say."

In a statement, CSX said: We encourage the commissioners to meet with us and to not walk away from jobs for the people of (Johnston County) ... Our company wants to listen, and we believe we can reach a mutually beneficial accommodation.

If you want to learn more about CSX's proposed project, click here.

As for Edwards, she's relieved, but refusing to let her guard down.

"We'll continue to fight until we hear something higher," said Edwards, whose land has been in her family for hundreds of years. "We have to."

Read more: Selma man fights to save family farm from railway giant

No timetable has yet been set for resuming negotiations with CSX. But Braswell did tell ABC11 that he is willing to pull the plug on this project if residents' concerns aren't met.

Click here for a statement from CSX

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