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FOREST GLEN BUYOUT OFFERS DISAPPOINT HOMEOWNERS SAY PROPOSALS FALL SHORT OF EXPECTATIONS

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has been offering buyouts to Forest Glen homeowners for just three weeks and some residents say they aren't being offered enough.

"The problem is they're not justifying their offer," said Rose F. Douglas of Lisa Lane. "They won't let us see the appraisals."

The agency appears to have adopted a $50,000 level for buyout offers regardless of the condition of the property, Christopher W. Schueckler of Lisa Lane said.

John F. Morreale of Carrie Drive, one of several residents accepting offers, said he settled on a figure less than $50,000.

Morreale conceded he may have accepted too soon.

As of Wednesday, 27 property owners received offers and eight had accepted them, according to Michael J. Basile, a spokesman for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He said residents have been told of the procedures on the buyouts, which include their right to refuse the first offer.

"They can come back and renegotiate," he said.

Helen Sumbler of T-Mark Drive said that even though residents may have accepted offers, it doesn't mean they have a house to move to. She said only two who accepted offers from the government have new quarters.

In a statement that Schueckler said was supported by 75 percent of the 53 households in the mobile home park, residents noted these points of dissatisfaction:

Not knowing the appraisal value.

Residents are being sent to comparable homes that have been already sold.

Amenities such as awnings, driveways, garages or built-in stoves are not being taken into consideration for the offers.

Officials have not checked the interior of comparable housing.

Residents who want to relocate as a group have been offered no assistance.

Basile said he has spent a lot of time explaining procedures with those who want to relocate as a group. He said officials cannot talk specifics with the group until all 53 homeowners have been given offers on their property. He said he has suggested homeowners do some preliminary work on trying to pick a location where they might like to live and finding out about available property.

Toni Rychel of Carrie Drive said comparable houses can mean dilapidated housing in undesirable neighborhoods near downtown Niagara Falls.

Even though FEMA's policy has been to relocate people in Niagara County, Anthony Vesci of Lisa Lane said Buffalo is exactly where he was offered a replacement house. He said he refused it and the buyout offer, too.

"They offered $30,000 for the trailer and $18,000, and it's worth more than that," he said. "You've put too much into it."

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