Companies would seek to sell Fairfield properties to city

June 17, 1999|By Joe Mathews | Joe Mathews,SUN STAFF

The two southern Baltimore chemical plants that have offered to buy out Fairfield peninsula residents want to resell those properties to the city at taxpayer expense.

The two chemical companies -- FMC Corp., which makes herbicides, and Condea Vista, which makes detergent ingredients -- announced last week that they are offering to pay an appraised value plus up to $22,500 for each of the dozen or so remaining homes in two tiny neighborhoods near their plants. Both companies said the offer is a neighborly, generous effort to assist with relocation.

In publicizing the offer, the plants initially made no mention of what they planned to do with the properties. If the properties are resold to the city, taxpayers would in effect help subsidize an unknown fraction of the buyout price.

"The chemical companies have made a proposal. That's what they would like to see happen," said city solicitor Otho Thompson. "But we have not reacted to it one way or another."

Jim Gillece, a lawyer for the companies, said he had discussed the resale proposal with city lawyers and with Baltimore Development Corp., which is trying to promote economic development on the peninsula.

The companies said they do not have expansion plans and have no need for the properties.

Fred von Ahrens, the FMC plant manager, said the resale should help the city consolidate its properties in the area and attract businesses.

The proposed buyout "is good for residents, it's good for business, it's good for the city," he said.

Von Ahrens said the companies would like the city to pay the properties' assessed value. In that case, the companies would lose thousands on each transaction.

For example, a property appraised recently in nearby Wagner's Point for $32,000 has an assessed value, for tax purposes, of a little more than $6,000.

The chemical companies' buyout would take properties on Chesapeake Avenue, Fairfield Road and Remley, Tate and Weedon streets.

Over the past two decades, the city has acquired dozens of properties in Fairfield, many of them bought from residents who wanted to move from the heavily industrial peninsula. At a meeting on the companies' offer Monday night, a half-dozen Fairfield residents said they will turn down the chemical companies' offer in the expectation that the city will buy them out directly, as it did their neighbors.

Since the buyout of nearby Wagner's Point became a political issue last year, city officials have sent conflicting signals about whether they are willing to buy out and relocate other Fairfield residents.

Pub Date: 6/17/99

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