We were informed during the week that the Surface Transportation Board in Washington has denied our request for the forced abandonment of the railroad tracks east of Athens Street. This is a disappointment but not the end of the matter. The Board also ruled that the railroad’s remaining amended lease with TORCH is still improper and gave the railroad 30 days to clean up the lease issues, and the railroad must report to the STB and the church every 6 months on its rehabilitation and utilization of the tracks for legitimate rail service. If the railroad doesn’t rehabilitate and utilize the tracks as proposed within a reasonable period of time, then the Board has indicated it will entertain a further request from the church for abandonment. We also believe the STB cleared the way for State court to determine the related property matters.
As previously reported there have been three legal actions pending:
- Hart County Superior Court injunction stopping the work behind the church
- Our STB request to abandon the tracks east of Athens St.
- The railroad request to condemn church property behind the church
Our original objective was to eliminate a walking trail permanently dividing our property and remove the safety threats it posed in our back yard to our members, programs and ministry. This has been accomplished but other matters surfaced during our work.
Our intent will be to vigorously defend against the condemnation of our church property by the railroad, and to follow closely the implementation of the full STB ruling. If you would like to see the STB ruling in its entirety go to the Service Transportation Board website and search Case # AB-1242.
Please continue to pray for our work and for all parties involved.
Land Use and Planning Task Force
Joe Whittemore, Jack Edmunds, Flo Brown, Luanne Burgess, Allen Stewart