Chemical plants offer residents $5,000 each for relocation help

Fairfield neighbors would agree not to sue

June 10, 1999|By Joe Mathews | Joe Mathews,SUN STAFF

Two of southern Baltimore's largest chemical plants are offering $5,000 a person to help with the relocation of three small neighborhoods on the Fairfield peninsula.

The offers by FMC Corp. and Condea Vista, announced to residents last night, is contingent on residents' agreeing not to pursue legal claims against the companies.

FMC and Condea Vista had serious industrial accidents last year, and residents of Fairfield, the Heights and Wagner's Point have complained of foul air and suspicious cancer cases.

This spring, the city government began taking the 90 homes and four businesses of Wagner's Point by eminent domain, and the state and federal governments have agreed to provide relocation assistance.

Some Wagner's Point homeowners have found houses, mostly in Anne Arundel County and West Virginia. But the city buyout left out Fairfield and the Heights, two small areas of about a dozen people each.

The chemical companies say they want to rectify that, clearing the peninsula, which has been inhabited for more than 100 years, of residents. Together, Condea Vista and FMC would buy all of the properties in Fairfield and the Heights for their appraised value plus a bonus of 150 percent of that value or $22,500, whichever was lower.

For example, the owner of a house appraised at $10,000 would receive a $15,000 bonus for a total of $25,000. The owner of a $30,000 home would get a $22,500 bonus for a total of $52,500, lawyers said.

In addition, residents of those communities and Wagner's Point would receive the $5,000 payment. The payment would apply equally to each resident, renter or homeowner, according to a written copy of the offer distributed at a meeting with residents last night.

Residents were split over the offer last night. Renters, desperate for the money to find new residences, said they would probably accept. But some homeowners, including those with family histories of cancer and respiratory ailments, said they were reluctant to sign away the right to sue for damages.

"If the companies only want to be good neighbors, why do they want us to release our rights for a measly $5,000?" asked Rose Hindla, president of the association and a Leo Street homeowner. "I'm going to give it some thought. But as it stands today, no, I wouldn't accept."

An attorney for Condea Vista said this week that this would be its final offer.

Pub Date: 6/10/99

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