Turner v Murphy - voluntary buyup

""It included a buyout program for the establishment of a green belt around the refinery.""  LDEQ EDMS 6503178.  A Fairness Hearing was held on January 4 2007 and the Judge indicated that he found the settlement to be fair. This fairness decision was based on the buyout properties use as a green zone buffer. The existing empty lots in the neighborhood are just that; a green belt. This was a voluntary buyup and residents who chose to revitalize have every right to remain and to remain unharrassed or pushed to sell. The neighborhood lots are not an area available to the oil company for expansion nor for relocation of office buildings, maintenance and machine shops, or any other use.
Thy Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbors House.

The St. Bernard Parish Council by Resolution previously agreed not to rezone anything in our neighborhood until Murphy Oil provided two things to the residents of St. Bernard: 1) its Master Plan for the current facility and 2) a written plan of their long-term intent for the former "buyout" "buyup" area. Only than could residents fully participate in an informed discussion to consider changes in their neighborhood which is around and within the existing greenspace or buffer. That is every citizens right to full and equal access to information before the decisions are made; its part of their right to secure tenure.  Let's hope the newly elected Council and Adminstration upholds the people's rights.

we are here and here to stay........

"important step in affording class members the means to rebuild their neighborhood" "creating a safe environment for residents" "Recognizing the desire of the St. Bernard community to return to their homes and businesses" "the impact of settlement will significantly aid their road to recovery and return to normality"

"The intent of the buyout program is thus to create a buffer zone between the Murphy Oil refinery and the community"   page 29

"So that buffer is being created. Then we can go ahead and remediate the most impacted properties and create some nice green space, which we think will benefit the community as a whole." page 28 
Federal Court Fairness Hearing

Murphy Oil defense attorney:  ""the buyout price reflects "the absolute top end of the range of real estate sales in St. Bernard" since Hurricane Katrina. Murphy wants to use the purchased property to create a buffer zone of green space between its refinery and residents""   The Times-Picayune  (New Orleans) January 5, 2007 FridaySECTION: METRO; Pg. 1HEADLINE: Judge favors settlement in St. Bernard oil spill; Governor at hearing to back residents BYLINE: By Susan Finch, Staff writer
Buffer Zone Update
The Murphy Oil crude-oil-spill case, Turner v Murphy, ordered the Meraux Refinery ‘s voluntary buyup program, which is intended “to create a buffer.” The agreement did not allow Murphy Oil to re-sell the buffer zone properties for commercial or industrial uses; residents were told by Murphy Oil, and relied on this information to base their decisions, that the land would be used for a green zone buffer.

In federal court pleadings and hearings transcripts for the settlement agreement, and in various St Bernard Parish (SBP) Council and Committee meeting transcripts, Murphy's defense attorneys can be quoted from transcripts stating the area would be turned into a green zone, a grassy greenpace, a nonused buffer, an exclusion zone  between the refinery and the neighborhood. That is what buffer zones are industry wide. That is the whole intent and purpose of the federal judge's court order and reasons. There has never been a misconception regarding the settlement agreement. There have only been presentations and contradictions by the same oil company attorneys.

Now, residents wonder what’s next on the menu. Murphy Oil has already purchased several Road Home or LLT Lots in the neighborhood despite a promise to residents from St. Bernard Parish Government that no LLT properties would be transferred to the Murphy Oil Meaux refinery without a landuse plan. The HRQL Chairman assured residents that no LLT properties would be transferred to the oil refinery without a landuse plan.  Unfortunately, many LLT properties were sold to Murphy Oil under the deed restricted Lot Next Door Program.  In fact, these real estate transactions occurred so far under the radar and out of public notice that even the HRQL Vice Chairman was not aware of the sales.  Now the new refiney owners are asking residents what would they think about industrial buildings along Jacob Drive and what's involved to get a zoning change.

Murphy Oil started using some of the homes purchased for the buffer as work bunk housing instead. Additionally, Murphy Oil officials have recently offered an explanation of their agreement with the local Court House, Clerk of Court not to release the buffer zone real estate transactions for publication, further keeping public information from residents. Neighbors think this is all too fishy.

In the Fall of 2005, these dedicated neighbors were some of the first residents to return after Hurricanes Rita and Katrina and the Murphy Oil spill, even celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas 2005 in their restored homes. They have already presented their vision for the revitalized neighborhood’s future and they have an equal right to the long-term security of their community, as much as any other neighborhood in the Parish. Yet, they sadly suspect local government and the Meraux Refinery have other plans.

The refinery was originally located on the other side of the highway and the land behind the neighborhood was not zoned for industrial use.  Then over the years there were a series of wise decisions to allow more and more industrial zoning changes further and further away from the river and into the backyards of our community. The processing plant doubled in the 1970's and several large additions including a clean fuels process began in the late 1990's early 2000's. How did the Parish ever allow these units to be constructed so close to family dwellings??
Let's not make the same mistake again with warehouses, administration buildings, parking etc. on Jacob Drive; that land was purchased with the pretense of a green zone buffer and a good neighbor would honor that agreement.  Any other use makes the Parish further liable. 

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