BAN PROGRESSIVE RAIL'S RESIDENTIAL RAIL CAR STORAGE IN LAKEVILLE MINNESOTA.
We the undersigned request a ban on rail car storage in Lakeville, MN residential areas. If this is not accomplished, we request that the exempt status be revoked immediately and a review be conducted of all road and trail grade crossings within the City of Lakeville. If mandated, appropriate signage, lights, signals, crossing arms and pavement markings must be installed at all grade crossings as soon as possible. This is an important safety issue for the City of Lakeville, its residents and anyone who travels through Lakeville.
· Progressive Rail has continually moved rail cars in and out of storage for EIGHT YEARS on the exempt tracks in Lakeville, MN between Dodd Blvd/Kenwood Trail and I35/ Kenwood Trail. Records show that rail cars have been moved more than five times per year, and at least 40 times in the last five years. Rail cars that are in storage on exempt tracks in Lakeville should be permanently moved out of residential areas, or this right of way can no longer be classified as exempt in accordance with MN Statute 169.28 Subd. 2.
· Storing rail cars in residential areas is an attractive nuisance for youth in the area and kids have been seen climbing on or under the rail cars. This is in violation of MN Public Nuisance Statute 609.74. It is a tragedy waiting to happen. Elected officials have told residents that, unfortunately, it will probably take a tragedy for something to change. We need to make a change before a tragedy occurs. The Attractive Nuisance Doctrine states that “A landowner may be held liable for injuries to children trespassing on the land if the injury is caused by an object on the land that is likely to attract children.” Progressive Rail has been sufficiently warned of the dangers of this residential storage for many years.
· When Progressive Rail is moving rail cars in and out of storage, they often do not notify the City, schools and residents, as per their agreement with the City of Lakeville MN, and they invariably move them when local schools are getting out. Many students cross the tracks on the way home and they are not expecting rail cars to move at any given moment since the rail cars have been stationary for a year or more. This is a potentially very dangerous situation.
· Progressive Rail’s eight year storage business is blight in our community, and is detrimental to property values within the City of Lakeville. Residents were advised that this business practice prompted the Dakota County Assessor’s Office to devalue property on the tracks for 2011-2016 if the property is in view of rail cars. Rail car graffiti and Progressive Rail’s general lack of maintenance of their right-of-way adds to property value concerns. This is in violation of MN Public Nuisance Statute 609.74.
· Progressive Rail has sprayed herbicide several times on their entire right-of-way throughout Lakeville residential areas and wetlands related to this storage business, creating an environmental hazard for residents, pets, lakes and our ground water. No advance notice is given when the herbicide spray is applied to the right-of-way. There have been reports of pets becoming ill after these herbicide applications. In addition, this rail company has been fined at least three times for environmental violations in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
· Since rail cars sit in neighborhoods for a year or more, when they are finally moved Progressive Rail often has mechanical issues related to the dilapidated right-of-way or rail cars which cause crossing blockages, at times of an hour or longer. This is in violation of MN Statute 219.383, Subd. 3, which allows for a blockage of no more than 10 minutes. In addition, because the tracks are so poorly maintained, the right-of-way is strewn with railroad spikes and other debris, and many of the ties are not secured to the rails. One of these loose railroad spikes became airborne during rail activity and it was embedded into the side of a resident’s house.
· Open rail cars collect water in the summer months and tax payers are paying for mosquito control treatment of these rail cars. Per the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District, this standing water can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes that are part of the cycle for many mosquito-borne illnesses such as West Nile Virus and La Crosse Encephalitis.
· In the 2014 election campaign cycle, the railroad industry reportedly contributed over $9 million to federal candidates, political parties and outside spending groups, its highest total ever. Almost all of that went to candidates and parties. The railroad industry lobby has a huge unfair spending advantage over all of us and Federal preemption always overrides our local laws and ordinances.
MAKE LAKEVILLE GREAT AGAIN!! Please sign this petition to voice your opinion on residential rail car storage so that we can be heard above the railroad industry lobbyists in Washington, DC. Thank you for your support!
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