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Council Rejects Plan to Construct Railroad Crossings

The Portsmouth Town Council voted Monday to reject a revised plan to construct railroad crossings at the future Newport Beach Club.

After alluding to , members of the Portsmouth Town Council rejected a revised plan Monday to construct railroad crossings at the future Newport Beach Club. 

The vote to reject was 3 to 3 with Councilors Judi Staven, Liz Pedro and Paul Kesson against the plan. 

"This (plan) is from the large taxpayer that's not paying taxes," Pedro said. 

Pedro and other members alluded to, but did not name the  Development Co. Inc. of King of Prussia, PA, which owes the town more than $1.9 million in unpaid property taxes.

Finance Director David Faucher said he's been in touch with the company and expects payment soon. If not paid, the properties will go to a tax sale on June 19. 

However, the railroad plan was petitioned by the Northern Waterfront Associates LP, not the Carnegie Tower Development Co. According to the Secretary of State's corporate database, Northern Waterfront Associates lists its mailing address as 700 South Henderson Road, Suite 225, King of Prussia, PA. 

"This is from a different entity entirely," said Northern Waterfront representative Edward T. Lopes Jr., who is also a member of the Portsmouth Planning Board.

"...I'd also like to point out is these (railroad) crossings already exist. What we'd like to do is improve them."

Northern Waterfront Associates LP is seeking permission to cross the Newport Secondary Railroad Line at certain locations as part of plans for the "Carnegie Beach Club, Planned Resort Development," which is also known as the "Newport Beach Club." 

The plans call for four crossings, including improvements to the one, existing railroad crossing at West Shore Road. The plans also call for construction of three, new permanent crossings at Club House Road, Main Road and Public Access Crossings/Fire Access Road. 

According to the agreement, Northern Waterfront sought the elimination of certain gates, flashing lights and warning bells for the three, new railroad crossings.

Instead, the Divison of Public Utilities and Carriers, the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Dinner Train LLC agreed to a "Stop and Proceed" protocol, according to the agreement.

A "Stop and Proceed" procedure is when all rail traffic comes to a full, complete stop at a sign posted 50 feet in advance of each crossing. After observing the crossing is clear of traffic, the rail traffic proceeds at a speed not exceeding five miles per hour and sounds its bells.

Approximately one to three train stops per week are expected over these crossings. 

The plan presented to the council Monday night was a revised agreement with language changes. With the council's rejection of this plan, construction is now on hold pending future meetings. 

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