VANDALIA – Members of the Vandalia City Council met with about 25 residents in the Cassel Road area of Vandalia to discuss the impact of a potential economic development project in the Northwoods Business Park.
The meeting was an ongoing discusssion between council members, city staff, and residents along Cassel and Old Springfield road that was initially began over concerns about a county proposal to extend the existing rail line.
“We have been very involved with the residents out off Cassel Road for an extended period of time, and we told them that we would keep them up to date with what we knew,” said Mayor Arlene Setzer. “At that time, there was nothing on the horizon. We thought this is the best time to discuss how we can help to lessen the impact of this industrial area adjacent to a residential area.”
The project is considering the Vandalia site and at least one other local site according to City Manager Jon Crusey. Crusey told residents that the company is in the plastics industry, but he does not know their identity.
Crusey noted that the site being considered is currently zoned industrial and would sit on land currently owned by CSX Railroad who appears to want to spur development in the area.
“CSX has been asking $70,000 per acre but recently lowered that to $40,000 per acre,” said Crusey. “We have had 4-5 inquiries into the area in the last 6-8 months.”
Of particular concern to residents would be the reactivation of an existing rail spur that formerly served Delphi. The spur runs north along the eastern side of the business park and then turns west before ending near I-75.
A second spur would run off of the existing railway to serve the proposed project.
Crusey told the audience that the project, if built, would be done in two phases. The first would be a 200,000 square foot building that would employ 100 and be serviced by 7-8 rail cars per week.
The second phase would add an additional 200,000 square feet, double employment, and increase the train loads by about 15 a month.
Kevin Sink, who lives in the area, said concerns about development go back more than a decade and include contaminated groundwater from the Delphi plant.
“There are still monitoring test wells out there, and once you disturb the ground you are going to change where the arteries are in the ground,” said Sink. “Unfortunately we have what was reported as poisonous (groundwater) from Delphi.”
Sink said he was glad the city was working with CSX and the potential developer to address citizen concerns. He cited topography and what the site would look like as chief concerns.
“The city has done very good in getting involved in the process and trying to bring us together,” he said. “We knew this (development) was going to come. We want to work with the city and developer so its not an eyesore up there. Most of the houses out there are $250,000 plus, so we have made big investments.”
Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.