Norfolk Southern Plans May Cut into Farm Properties

Property owners near New Market have been contacted about selling out to Norfolk Southern for a huge inter-modal facility that features an industrial park with truck terminals and railroad cars for trans-shipping.

Locals who have seen the plans describe it as well over 1,000 acres and officials have told them it will be "the largest facility of its kind east of the Mississippi River." The plans for the site show all the property between the railroad tracks and Andrew Johnson Highway and it stretches from Esslinger Road to the elementary school near New Market.

Some property owners have written to the state's congressional delegation urging that the facility be located near existing industrial parks and on brownfields in Knoxville or Morristown rather than taking hundreds of acres of green fields. A site in Mascot across from East Bridge Industrial Park was also under consideration, but Knox development sources say the railroad thinks the site is too narrow for such a huge facility. One property owner letter suggests using the John Sevier Yards near Knoxville, which already belong to Norfolk Southern. The letter also cites possible environmental damage to nearby Lost Creek, which flows into a sink hole and continues underground to the Holston River. It has become clogged in years past, flooding surrounding farmland.

Some of the property in New Market consists of farms that have been in the same family for over 100 years. The final phases of the development are expected to jump the railroad tracks and take in additional farms.