T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History
Rezoning Mossville and the buy-outs
Hal McMillin by Chelsea Arseneualt, 2015.
HAL MCMILLIN: The toughest decision in politics is zoning issues. Any time you have a zoning issue you’ve got a whole group of people over here that want it, and a whole group of people over here that don’t want it. I kin it to being like a basketball official. When a basketball official blows a whistle, usually fifty percent this team’s not going to like it, and this team is, and that team’s not. So it’s almost like whenever you’re doing a zoning case, you’re going to have people at odds. Those are the toughest and I take them the most serious, but . . . yeah.

ARSENEAULT: What about rezoning Mossville into heavy industrial?

MCMILLIN: Tough. Tough.

ARSENEAULT: What was that like?

MCMILLIN: Yeah that’s tough decisions. Because you see the factors of what Sasol’s going to bring with this economic development, but you also see people that’s lived there all their life. But in my opinion, Sasol was more than fair. The people that they . . . needed their property for a project was paid very well. The people that they just wanted to be a good neighbor and say, “Hey we’re going to give you an opportunity to sell on the VPP [voluntary property purchase] plan and buyout sixty percent above appraised value.” Plus paying closing costs, plus incentives if you signed early and stuff like this. You offer me sixty percent above appraised value of my house right now, you can have the clothes. I’ll just go. That’s a tremendous offer. In fact, I think it’s even better than . . . We all remember the history of Love Canal. That was a better offer than what the people got at Love Canal.

So I feel like Sasol’s been very fair in their offer. I feel like there are some people in Mossville have been very unfair in wanting to stay and try to get more. And that’s a tough situation. Some people want to stay because they want to stay . . . They don’t want to leave their home site. But there are some people that want to stay because they’re holding out. And I think those people are going to lose in the long run. They should have took the very fair offer from the beginning. My opinion. But you can point-counterpoint that all day. But my opinion is Sasol, as an industry with they’ve done, has been very fair to the majority of the people.

There’s some people that didn’t want to leave, and it hurts them to leave, and it’s their community and their history. But for the better good of the entire Calcasieu Parish and everything, we can’t let an eleven billion dollar project not come to southwest Louisiana. Is there growing pains? Absolutely. Is there people that having to leave their home that didn’t want to leave their home? Yes. Is there people that are waiting in traffic much longer or at the restaurant much longer? We all are. But it’s going to be better in the long run for all of us and I’m excited about that.
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This project is a collaboration between the Imperial Calcasieu Museum and LSU Libraries to document the history of Mossville, a historic African American community in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana.
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