GeoCarta Has Moved

Sep 22, 2007

Working on the Railroad

N.C. Railroad has begun combining 19th-century deeds with modern mapping methods in a effort to regain control of its right-of-way. That process has angered nearby landowners, many of whom have been using the railroad's land as their own.

The Charlotte Observer reports that the railroad has begun demanding the property owners sign leases.

"Nobody told me that when I bought the building," [Frank] Abernethy said this week. "I told the guy, `What are you trying to do, put me out of business?' "

The railroad says there are hundreds of other property owners like Abernethy along its 317-mile line from Charlotte to Morehead City. One day, the company could try to reclaim the disputed parcels. But for now, the railroad just wants rent, said Scott Saylor, railroad president.

For years, the railroad didn't know how many businesses were on its property or encroaching on the right of way. But now, the railroad has the mapping technology to identify -- and go after -- those businesses.

The railroad currently collects on 233 lease agreements with small businesses along the length of the line, said Kat Christian, a railroad spokeswoman. At least 120 newly identified businesses, including Abernethy's, haven't signed or responded to letters, she said.