Judge Grants Access to Rail Line Near Ethanol Plant

A judge will let Hennepin Industrial LLC access, use and repair the railroad tracks that cross land owned by Marquis Energy LLC or anybody else with a claim to the land below the crossties. Circuit Judge Thomas Keith’s temporary order only lasts through Aug. 4.

Hennepin Industrial, the owner demolishing the old steel plant and salvaging scrap metal, filed an emergency complaint last week over railroad access against Marquis Energy LLC.

The complaint stated that in June, Marquis piled sand and gravel on the railroad track, and some of the track was cut, to block the track between the old steel mill and the Norfolk Southern main line.

The request for an emergency temporary restraining order was filed in Putnam County last Thursday, and the parties met Tuesday at the Marshall County Courthouse in Lacon.

Roger Bolin, attorney for Marquis Energy LLC, said the easement had been abandoned before Hennepin Industrial LLC. purchased the plant because of stipulations dealing with the tracks and plant not being operational after a certain amount of time.

“It’s their easement until proven otherwise,” Keith said late in Tuesday’s hearing.

Bolin also said Marquis Energy LLC is not the owner of the land being talked about, therefore indicating Hennepin Industrial LLC named the wrong defendant (or owner) in its complaint.

“You’re arguing as if you are,” Keith said to Bolin.

It was not clear which entity owns the land being discussed.

The blockage obstructs Hennepin Industrial’s ability to move large quantities of scrap metal, the complaint states. Hennepin Industrial intends to load approximately 100 rail cars per month over the next two to three months to ship out for recyclable metal.

Hennepin Industrial says it has priority rights under a railroad easement dating back to previous owners that allow it to traverse the adjoining piece of land northeast of the mill site.

The complaint stated Hennepin Industrial purchased the property with seller financing, requiring a large payment on Sept. 1.

The steel mill site owners’ lawyers wrote that if they are unable to move scrap materials by rail, Hennepin will default on its loan obligations.

Michael J. Scotti III is the attorney for Hennepin Industrial.

The next hearing will be Aug. 3 afternoon at the Putnam County Courthouse, in Hennepin.

Source: News Tribune