Attorney: Dilles Bottom Residents Waiting For ‘Fair Deal’ for Property

Photo by Casey Junkins Members of the Rayl family in this Dilles Bottom Road home, which officials with PTT Global Chemical are trying to acquire as part of the possible lot for an ethane cracker. From left are father Billy Rayl, 18-month-old daughter Kennedy, mother Tonya, 2-year-old son Brantley and 16-year-old daughter Desirae Harris.

DILLES BOTTOM –When Billy and Tonya Rayl extensively remodeled their bathroom, bedrooms, front porch and other areas of their home, they had no idea Thailand-based PTT Global Chemical would one day want the land for construction of a giant ethane cracker, estimated to cost up to $6 billion.

The Rayls live at the home with their children, 18-month-old Kennedy, 2-year-old Brantley and 16-year-old Desirae Harris. They are one of at least 10 Dilles Bottom families waiting to see if PTT will offer them what they see as fair price for their property.

“We don’t even know what kind of house we could look for. We still owe money on this house, so we can’t just go get another loan,” Billy Rayl said.

“None of my clients were actively selling their property. They enjoy living in the community,” said attorney Jonathan Turak, who represents the Rayls and several other families. “There is no ‘for sale’ sign on this property. The only thing they are looking for is a fair deal.”

Earlier this week, PTT officials announced they had entered a memorandum of understanding with JobsOhio — a private corporation Gov. John Kasich established in 2011 as a replacement for the state-run Department of Development — to “enhance the well-being and quality of life” for those who live in the Dilles Bottom area.

PTT spokesman Dan Williamson said he could not comment further on the memorandum of understanding. He also declined to comment on the negotiations with Turak’s clients except to say the company will continue working with the landowners.

“They (the company) need to understand that the value of this property is not fairly measured by an appraisal,” Turak said.

“If your house is appraised at $100,000, and I am willing to give you $120,000, you wouldn’t bite on that. Now if I came in and said, ‘I’ll give you $300,000,’ that may be a different situation,” Turak added.

Williamson said the company has offered more than 125 percent of the appraised value of every property. However, Billy Rayl said the amount PTT offered for his property was “unrealistic.”

“This company is not purchasing these homes. They are going to demolish the homes because they want the property,” Turak said. “That property is far more valuable than the home that currently sits on it.”

In September 2015, Kasich and PTT officials gathered at the Statehouse in Columbus to announce plans to spend $100 million for engineering and design work for the giant ethane cracker project. During the summer, PTT officials paid $13 million to purchase the former R.E. Burger plant site from FirstEnergy Corp., which consists of about 170 acres. However, the entire proposed cracker area encompasses about 500 acres, which includes property owned by Ohio-West Virginia Excavating and several smaller parcels of land along Dilles Bottom Road.

Company representatives continue to maintain a final decision will be made by the end of this year, but Billy Rayl is not certain.

“What’s to stop them from just pushing it back again?” he said.

Williamson previously said seeking eminent domain has not been proposed as an option to acquire the properties. Turak confirmed this.

“Nobody has threatened eminent domain. I am not aware of any authority they would have for eminent domain in this matter,” Turak said. “What I am really hoping for is that the actual decision makers will be willing to sit down with us to give us a chance to explain our circumstances to them.”