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Rail authority wants to buy building, demolish it

A potential real estate dispute could be brewing in Shamokin, Pennsylvania, as the SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority looks to make upgrades to their rail line through the Shamokin Valley.

The authority is aiming to upgrade all rail crossings throughout Shamokin, which is northwest of Philadelphia. A small building sits near one of these locations, which is currently being used as a tattoo shop. The abnormally small building was originally constructed as a public bathroom. It eventually drew interest for commercial purposes when an insurance company used the space.

The SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority's director said they would like to purchase the building and demolish it as a part of their renovations. He said doing away with the building would increase pedestrian safety.

However, the building's current owner said he loves the space and is not interest in moving. Still, the building will soon be appraised, and if the authority decides to try and buy it, they will split the bill with the city.

The building's owner said that he has engaged in conversations with officials on this particular project. He said that they hinted at the idea of taking the building by eminent domain, which he outright refused. He said that he would remain flexible, and if a proposed arrangement benefitted him enough, he would consider selling.

The renovations at this rail crossing, and others around the city, include the addition of crossing lights and masts to increase safety. The director of the SEDA-COG Joint Rail Authority said the man's building seriously impedes the vision of pedestrians.

Property owners in this scenario tend to get jerked around by city officials who have their eye on certain property. The building's owner, however, still has rights and can exercise them in a court of law.

Source: NewsItem.com, "Unique building near railroad tracks in Shamokin may be razed as part of upgrades," Eric Scicchitano, Jan. 4, 2013

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