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03-10-03: Bremen, RJ Corman await ruling in case over new crossing
The Daily Standard
    WAPAKONETA - A dispute over adding a railroad crossing in New Bremen continues between the village and RJ Corman Railroad, Celina.
    Auglaize County Common Pleas Court Judge Frederick Pepple ordered attorneys for RJ Corman and the village to submit proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law after hearing arguments for about seven hours Friday. The proposals must be submitted by March 31, and a decision will be made after that, Pepple said.
    The village of New Bremen filed a lawsuit April 19, 2002 after RJ Corman would not allow village officials to extend Steine Drive in the Bunker Hill Industrial Park over the current railroad track. Extending the road over the tracks would open a second access to the industrial park, village officials have said. But RJ Corman is contesting the move, saying it isn't needed and the state wants to reduce the number of at-grade crossings.
    Richard Wallace, Sidney, the attorney representing RJ Corman, said the village must show the crossing is a necessity according to law.
    "The law requires this," Wallace said. "The extension must be reasonably required. I don't think that is the case here."
    Jerry McLannan, an engineer from Mote and Associates, Greenville, was questioned for nearly two hours at the hearing.
    "We (McLannan and village officials) met with (RJ Corman) officials in January 2002 and were met with no resistance at that time," McLannan said, under questioning from Wallace. "We did consider other alternatives, but we didn't figure there would be a problem after meeting with representatives from the company."
    New Bremen village solicitor Steve Smith argued there would not be any danger if the crossing was built, and the extension of the road across the tracks was important for the future development of the village. He also argued a second crossing is needed to provide more than one entry for emergency vehicles, such as fire squads.
    "It is not feasible to consider that there would be an alternative to this plan," Smith said. "I think it is shown that the crossing is necessary for the development of the village."
    Wallace argued there were five at-grade crossings in the village, which is more than enough, he said. He also said RJ Corman's biggest concern was the liability of drivers crossing the tracks.
    "The plan was ill-designed and ill-conceived," Wallace said. "There is an increase in liability and danger."
    Smith responded, saying there would not be any added danger. He said there would be minimal traffic at the crossing and the trains move about five miles per hour.
    While under oath, village economic developer Urban Buschur said he felt the crossing would be beneficial to the village.
    "It would give us another option with future economic development," Buschur said. "Yes, I think being allowed to extend this crossing is important."
    In a telephone call this morning, New Bremen Mayor Bob Klein said village officials are keeping their fingers crossed while waiting for the judge's decision.
    "There is no other way around it," Klein said. "There was no other way to provide a second access at the industrial park. We think this would be key for the village because of safety and economic concerns."


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The Standard Printing Company
P.O. Box 140, Celina, OH 45822