Thursday, the government approved a bill that would allow the expansion of the Nursipalu training field to continue. Local and state authorities will engage in intense, substantive negotiations in the near future.
There are at least seven residences in Lükka that are part of the planned Nursipalu exercise area enlargement. No one wants to be told that they must leave their homes.
Laine Kimask, 88 years old, has spent her entire life on the Mae-Lükka farm her father built. The mere prospect of losing her house causes her to despair. There is no way to compensate for that.
"I am not interested in money. What am I going to do with that, elderly lady? I would rather die in this house. I am happy where I live, with my flowers all around; I don't want to go anywhere else. This thought pains me," Kimask said.
Jaan Post resides next to Laine on the Vahe-Lükka farm. The homestead, which he purchased and renovated by hand in the early 1990s, serves as his primary residence from spring to autumn.
"I love this spot of land. When I first moved here, I built a greenhouse, excavated a pond, and bought bees. When I walk out of my room in the morning and go outdoors, I go to the pond and watch the bees flying around, working; it is such a joy to see. It also makes me happy that I have some work to do here," Post said."
With the arrival of Nursipalu, the joy is gone and the future is bleak, so much so that Jaan stopped cultivating the farmland.
"I ploughed it all up last fall, but I am not planning to do anything this year because I am not sure whether I'll be able to harvest. I guess I will have to give it all up, sad as it is. I am giving up the house, I am giving up everything," Post said.
At least four of the 21 dwellings under the Nursipalu extension have had their property valued. One of them is Andres Anderson, who lives on the Ala-Lükkä farm. He says the assessment does not oblige him to do anything, nor does he know what compensation he would find acceptable.
"It is a difficult issue, it is a matter of negotiation, and if the negotiations on this issue fail, I am not leaving. They promise you hundreds of thousands and millions and then when you sign somewhere, they just give you the market price and that's it. I don't trust them," Anderson said.
Other homeowners, many of whom are reluctant to appear on camera, also express mistrust. They fear that their fellow compatriots will ridicule them, call them Putinists and point fingers.
Many say that they have not thought about compensation at all, because there is simply no information available. Post from Vahe-Lükkä farm, on the other hand, knows exactly what he wants.
"I don't want money; I want to be treated fairly. I would want some greenery. I want land where I can keep bees, have a pond where fish can swim, and build a greenhouse. I want to keep my hands in the dirt. Something I have to do on a daily basis. And I want a shed where I can store my equipment; I don't want the money," Post said.
Anti Allas (SDE), a former mayor of Võru and a new member of the parliament, said that local governments are in a similar situation to landowners in that there is insufficient information on which to base decisions.
In addition to opposing the present form of the Nursipalu development, he intends to vote against the amendment of four laws in the parliament. According to him, the first step should be to conduct socioeconomic studies, which would then serve as the premise for determining how much compensation the municipalities should receive.
"The reality is that people are leaving these municipalities, taxpayers are leaving. Then it would make sense for the state to compensate the municipalities for the loss of revenue on a permanent, annual basis. In order to attract other activities, other investments, it is also necessary to invest in businesses and each municipality would then decide for itself what to do with the money," Allas said.
Allas added that state subsidies for those in the immediate vicinity of the exercise area should also be considered.
Pevkur: Compensations will be very dignified
Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur (Reform), said that the compensation package has been finalized, but since the government will approve the precise conditions next week, they can now be discussed in general terms. The 21 properties located within the expanded exercise area will be the most affected.
"Our initial calculations indicate that the compensation will be quite substantial," Pevkur said, "We are talking about hundreds of thousands, and in some cases, perhaps even a million or more." Pevkur said that every property owner will be provided with a suitable solution.
"It varies from property to property. For instance, if we talk about farmland, natural grassland, or woodland, then undoubtedly the majority of landowners anticipate monetary compensation," the minister said.
In the case of buildings the estimate is based on their replacement value.
Pevkur said, "Real estate experts will determine the value based on how much compensation a person needs to build a new home."
In addition, there is a permanent toleration payment for the municipalities in the region, which Pevkur said would triple. In addition, the city of Võru, the municipalities of Rõuge, Antsla and Võru will receive a so-called creation payment (loomistasu).
There will be opportunities to replace windows, as well as the installation of acoustic barriers. Local authorities will determine how the funds will be allocated.
The construction of the Nursipalu training ground will cost tens of millions of euros, but the total cost will be substantially higher.
"Tens of millions will be spent on obtaining land and dwellings. Obviously, we do not yet know the exact amount because the auditors still carry out their tasks. Also, we have a pretty good idea of how much will be paid to the municipalities and how much will be spent on window replacements," Pevkur explained.
"My current estimation is that the construction of the entire Nursipalu training area, including the necessary compensations and constructions — the road, the necessary buildings, and the facilities that will be on the training area — will cost more than one hundred million," he added.
Editor: Marko Tooming, Kristina Kersa