The only reason I was able to meet with the realtors is due to the fact that some of my family members own farm land in the Hyperion project area. From these meetings and the offers for option they have made on farm land, it is apparent that they are willing to pay over 2.5 times market value for farm land. This is based on a formula that is up to three times assessed valuation. However, the offer for acreages is only market value and this is arrived by the formulation of 1.5 times assessed valuation. The realtors have optioned one acreage in the area based on this formulation and they stated that they set the ceiling with that option.
While market value might be fair if I were to sell my home because I was moving out of state, it certainly does not seem fair if I need to move because I am being displaced by an $8 billion refinery.
The problem with a market value offer is the fact that I could not replace what I have now for market value. In fact, the offer that was made would not rebuild my house, let alone put nine acres of land under it or replace the buildings I have.
When the realtors made this offer, they tried to reassure me that it was a great deal and I would come out of this smelling like a rose. In fact, Sutton and Molstad told me that I could rebuild my house for $50 per square foot. I pointed out that it cost about $100 per square foot in 2000 but they continued to insist that it could be done for half that today. Molstad even told me that $60 per square foot would get hardwood floors throughout and granite countertops.
While I am indeed concerned about my personal situation, I am even more concerned about the offers that will be made to several dozen of my neighbors living on acreages in the Hyperion buffer zone. There are a number of retired couples living in paid-for homes that would not have a very high assessed or market value. If these people are displaced by Hyperion and they are forced to move to town, they will likely need to take a mortgage to end up with a similar home to what they currently have. If they prefer to live in the country, that will be nearly impossible without added financial burden. I became very concerned when I was told by Sutton that they will not even approach acreage owners for a couple years until they have their land purchased and are starting construction. This does not lead me to believe that the offers will be equitable at that time.
The other thing to consider in this situation is the effect that Hyperion is having on the current home market in this area. At present it would be nearly impossible for an acreage owner to sell in this area due to the current uncertainty of what it will mean to live next to a refinery. Who in their right mind would buy a home not knowing if it was going to be right next to a major refinery in several years?
The Hyperion representatives have said time and again that they want to be a good neighbor. I would like to see them be a good neighbor, but if they cannot compensate the people that are being most directly affected by this project I would have a hard time calling them a good neighbor.