(American Press Archives)
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 21, 2013 5:32 PM
Economic growth isn’t always antiseptic. It comes, at times, with inconvenience, turmoil and pain.
Such is the case with Sasol’s coming mega-investment in its unique gas-to-liquid and ethane cracker units in Westlake. The South African company plans to spend between $16 billion and $21 billion — the largest capital investment in the history of Louisiana — for the new facilities. With it comes the promise of 7,000 construction jobs at peak period, 1,200 permanent jobs at the facility and thousands of in-direct jobs.
But that expansion also means encroachment on the historical areas of Mossville and Brentwood and the displacement of residents whose families have lived there for generations.
If Sasol was a public entity, it could declare eminent domain to acquire the property needed for the expansion.
As a private company, though, it must barter with individual property owners.
That process got under way recently with Sasol’s Voluntary Property Purchase Program. Sasol has wisely hired a third party, Georgia-based Community Interaction Consulting, to handle the property acquisitions.
Residents have been encouraged to register with a CIC counselor to note their status as a homeowner or renter. Residents can choose three appraisers from a list of 40 taken from the Louisiana Real Estate Commission’s website, or select a local, full-time appraiser that is not on the list.
All property appraisals will be paid by CIC. Sasol’s property purchase offer will be based on the average appraised price on the two highest appraisals residents receive on their property. If the appraisals vary by more than 10 percent, a third appraisal will be ordered and Sasol will pay the average of the two highest amounts.
Renters are also eligible for moving compensation.
The purchase program will also match residents agreeing to sell with local real estate companies that will help them relocate.
Michael Hayes, Sasol’s public affairs manager for U.S. megaprojects, said the final price offered to residents will amount to more than fair market value.
“Many of these people have never moved before,” he said. “We want them living in a place where they are happy and have a soft landing. We’re about to intrude on their existence. Helping them move is just the right thing to do.”
Deadline to register for the program is Wednesday, Dec. 4. Registering for the program, according to CIC officials, is not a commitment to sell.
While unsettling for residents, the property purchase is nothing new for our area as residents who have lived near Fort Polk can attest.
It is a necessary, albeit worrisome, aspect of progress. It also represents a fair option for Mossville and Brentwood residents who have bitterly complained for decades about industry’s encroachment on their neighborhoods.
This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.
Posted By: Mike Schaff_ On: 12/22/2014
Title: SASOL's land grab
Here we have another company in Louisiana attempting to force people to leave their homes.
Take it from someone who's being forced from his home of 25 years, there is not enough money in this world that can replace what you are losing... stay strong, we in Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou stand with you.
Resident of Paradise Stolen
Bayou Corne, Louisiana
Posted By: C Brooking - Citizen of Louisiana On: 12/21/2014
Title: Since when does a South African company take precedence over US citizens?
How can you say with any seriousness, that this is fair to the homeowners that have been subjected to excessive stress, emotional and mental abuse (yes, abuse!) by Sasol and our very own corrupt government of Louisiana.Is it FAIR to be uprooted, against your will, and to add insult to injury, forced into a take it or leave it offer on your home? And your government not do a damn thing to help you get a fair deal. In fact, your government has used your tax dollars and invested them against you? Another fine example of Louisiana politicians controlled by oil & gas. Unbelievable.
Posted By: Dorothy Felix On: 12/21/2014
Title: SASOL IS NOT FAIR
This editorial was first published in August 2013 before (1) it was clear that SASOL was not going to develop the Voluntary Property Purchase Program with the input of Mossville and Brentwood residents; (2) those of us living in Mossville ran into serious problems with SASOL's property buy-out program (go to: http://louisvillecharter.org/sasol-sep-2014.shtml); (3) SASOL refused to resolve these problems; (4) SASOL's request to rezone properties in Mossville to heavy industrial was approved by the Police Jury without any concern for residents who live on and nearby these properties; (5) the Port of Lake Charles plans to expropriate properties in Mossville without taking the time to understand the concerns that we have with SASOL's purchase offers; and (6) people came to understand that SASOL is purchasing properties, not with its own money, but with $115 million from Louisiana taxpayers without any requirements for fair dealing and fair treatment of property owners and renters. We cannot call SASOL "fair" when it is not. Mossville Environmental Action Now will hold a community meeting tomorrow on Monday, December 22 to issue a report that exposes SASOL's unfair treatment of property owners and renters.
Posted By: Russel L Honore GreenARMY On: 12/21/2014
This is a unfair process ,your offer is fair market value , you should be offering replacement value , we have a new state law that require mandatory evacuation to pay replacement value . This is Darn shame that Parish Government and this News Paper side with South African company over interest of poor people of MossVille . What Is fair market value of MossVille homes surrounded by 14 Chemical plants . The sad thing is when local Government show no respect for our own people . Pretty funny to have this paper run this article on eve of our meeting tomorrow in Mossville . Goes to Show That a Big Oil has hijacked our Democracy ,the nerve to inject ft Polk in the conversation . People of Lake Charles have remained silent , but you will be subjected to 14 million gallons of hot water a day in your beloved river , and 10 million tons of poison air will fly over your city annually . We have a elderly lady who got offer of $ 150.000 she said She needed $170.000 SASOL said no $150 .000 final offer , some of these citizens have FEMA grants that have to be payed back if they sell . Way to go American Press and Parish Government . I am sure South African Government will have a Award for yall.