DETROIT (WJBK) - "Sometimes
it'll get so smoky around here that you think it's a fog, but it's not,"
said Charles Martin, who has lived in the area for 40 years.
No one really wants to live next
door to an oil refinery, especially one that keeps creeping closer to your
"We'd love to leave,"
Martin told us.
Now, Marathon Petroleum is
giving families the option to do just that. The company's looking to literally
buy out Oakwood Heights, a southwest Detroit neighborhood right in
between the refinery and the Rouge River. There are a little more than 500
homes and vacant lots there, and Marathon's offering to buy each and every one
"Our expectation is that people
will be very happy with the program," said Tracy Case with Marathon.
The company's put what some are
calling a pretty sweet deal on the table. Every homeowner who lives in their
home will get at least $40,000 for the house regardless of what it appraises
For example, let's say a homeowner
who's house appraises at $30,000 decides to sell. They'll get $40,000 and may
qualify for thousands more in incentives. So, they could potentially walk away
with more than $60,000.
What will Marathon do with the
neighborhood? They'll turn it into a green buffer zone. Marathon executives say
there are no plans to expand the plant into this space, but if they own the
land, they'll have the option and no neighbors to complain about it.
"This is an improvement because
if they can take an opportunity to allow residents to have the option of
leaving this community and go somewhere they feel comfortable and feel is more
conducive to their health ... I think it's a good thing," said Theresa
Some people in the neighborhood have
already taken deals, but the Martins aren't so sure.
"I'll be 68 in a month,"
Charles Martin explained. "I'm not going out and getting a mortgage to get
out of here."
No one will be forced to sell, but
the question is how long will they want to stay when everyone else is gone?
"I feel it's going to be
generous enough for some people to really consider it," Landum told us.
"We still got to live. We still
got to have some place that we're going to enjoy living," Martin said.
Marathon is rolling out this program
fairly quickly. Homeowners only have until the end of February to sign up.
There are some informational meetings scheduled for November 3 at 6:30 p.m.,
November 4 at 6:30 p.m. and November 5 at 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. at the
former Palomino Lounge at 850 Oakwood Boulevard.