John Mitchell, the county’s director of business and community development, said the pieces of the [Hendersonville-to-Brevard rail line for the Ecusta Trail] project are falling into place or imminent, including the transfer of ownership of the tracks from Blue Ridge Railroad Co. to Conserving Carolina.
“Our intention is to develop a longterm lease (by the county) with Conserving Carolina,” he said. “We plan to have that ready at closing, likely in May. We also are working with both Laurel park and the city of Hendersonville to begin drafting an MOU (memorandum of understanding) for what we consider a linear park.”. . .
Meanwhile, the process to set aside the rail line for public use through railbanking is progressing. Law firms that specialize in representing trackside property owners who may have a claim when a rail corridor is railbanked for a trail have contacted landowners along the Ecusta tracks, Mitchell said. Any claim for compensation would come before the Surface Transportation Board, the agency in the U.S. Department of Transportation that authorizes railbanking. “We do not anticipate that being an issue either for the construction of the trail or on the county’s side of the ledger,” Mitchell said, referring to potential litigation for compensation. . .