Legislators Attempt to Incentivize Norfolk Southern Facility to Look Elsewhere

Well, if sticks don't work, how about a carrot?

A series of bills limiting the ability of Norfolk Southern to develop an intermodal facility in New Market and to bring some sunshine to property purchases have been shot down by Chamber of Commerce lobbying. State Rep. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains, and state Sen. Tim Burchett, R-Knoxville, have been working on another front. They worked with Comptroller Justin Wilson to get an amendment to the Technical Corrections bill which will provide a tax incentive for an industry or railroad that agrees to locate on a brownfield instead of taking green farmland for a project.

Wilson convinced the Bredesen administration to include the amendment in its annual tax package making technical corrections in the tax code. The bill passed Senate Finance last week with the amendment, which should remain in the bill until it passes.

While the immediate impact might be to influence Norfolk Southern to consider an existing brownfield for its facility, it will also encourage other industries to consider existing industrial sites and industrial parks rather than take farmland.

Burchett, arguing for the amendment, said Knox County has a number of brownfield sites he hopes will be developed. Burchett is odds-on favorite to be the next county mayor.