Scottville trying to remove old railroad building

June 16, 2014

csx_building_scottvilleBy Rob Alway. Editor-in-Chief. 

SCOTTVILLE — The City of Scottville is addressing a concern from a resident/business owner regarding a blighted building. Bill Brooks, who owns Linda’s Baby and Resale Shop, along with his wife, Linda, has raised concerns about the building next to his business at 113 S. Blaine Street.

The building, located between Brooks’ building and the railroad tracks, is owned by CSX Corporation, which owns the railroad right-of-away and used to operate the railroad through Mason County.

“The building needs to be torn down due to its current condition,” City Manager Amy Williams said. “I believe it’s likely past the repair stage and it could be a hazard. It’s not currently used so I think it is better to be torn down than asking for it to be repaired.”

However, the problem is the city has no authority to enforce its blight ordinance on that particular piece of property. The railroad and its right-of-way are regulated by the federal government and therefore local ordinances do not have any authority there.

“The law is clear that if the property or structure is used for railroad purposes, then federal law preempts our ordinances, and we have no jurisdiction whatsoever,” said City Attorney Tracy Thompson in an email to Williams. He added that if the building is used for railroad purposes the city has no authority, but it could ask.

Williams said she contacted Marquette Rail, which owns the railroad tracks. “They admitted they ‘own’ the tracks,” Williams said. “But, they don’t own the real estate, which is under CSX. However, they have directed me to a ‘head’ person who I have a call into to see if they can do anything to help us out.”

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