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Proposed rail yard draws concerns in Lincoln County

Site of proposed rail yard
Isak Dinesen
WAOW Television
Site of proposed rail yard

Dozens made their voices heard over a possible heavy industry site in the Town of Merrill Thursday.

People packed into the Lincoln County Land Services Committee meeting for a public hearing that many say would create negative effects on the area.

The company Prairie River Junction is seeking a conditional use permit for what will ultimately become a rail yard near Doginski Road.

According to property owner Jeff Heller, the site had previously been considered for mixed-residential use in decades prior, but had been denied due to the property being too close to the tracks.

He says they are requesting this permit to keep their options open, but should this proposal fall through, they have other things in mind for the land.

"If the heavy industrial option conditional use doesn't pass here, I want you to know we still have our intention to build the siding, we are going to build rail on our property, we are following our zoning criteria," Heller said.

According to a staff report, they are recommending this proposal move forward to the full county board with conditions. The report can be found through this link on page 81.

Some who live near the land are not happy about the potential impacts.

"We just put $30,000 into a house that is going to be de-valued. We're going to lose money if this goes in there, and we always said that's what we're putting our money into, is our home. This is so disheartening," Nicole Schuett of Merrill said.

Others were concerned about noise impacts, potential derailments, and re-routing for children's bus schedules, among other factors.

After the public hearing portion concluded, the board voted to honor the Town of Merrill's request to hold off on sending it to the full county board, requesting more information on the project. The town has 30 days to respond.

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