Some local realtors are expecting significant decreases in land values to homes in the area surrounding local wind turbine projects, but the proponents have said they have no indication that will be the case.
Across the Municipality of Kincardine, the 120-turbine Enbridge Wind Power Project has been a highly-debated topic, while Suncor Energy’s 38-turbine project has been widely supported in the Ripley area of Huron-Kinloss.
Mitch Twolan, Mayor of Huron-Kinloss and broker of Lake Range Realty, said he’s already experienced the pros and cons to real estate which have come along with the turbine proposals. But Twolan believes it will take the completion of the projects to properly determine what widespread impact it will have after that time.
“It’s going to be two to five years before we see the real impact,” Twolan said. “At this point, it’s almost too early to know. A lot of people are afraid of the unknown.”
He recently sold a property in the vicinity of a turbine site, where the buyer was fully aware and did not hinder their intentions to purchase the property. But on the other hand, he has met some buyers who have walked away from properties at the first mention of turbines being built nearby.
“As a realtor, we have to disclose these types of projects that are going in,” he said. “They can then move beside them or not. That’s what they have to decide.”
He said in terms of assessment value for insurance, replacement and market values, the impacts will be unknown until they arrive. It’s a complicated issue, Twolan said, which is reminiscent of the intensive farming issues dealt with in recent years.
Kincardine’s Remax Land Exchange broker Robert Scott was heavily involved in seeing through the leases for the Enbridge project and has dealt with properties for sale close to possible turbine sites.
Scott said there are a lot of issues to do with property values which they won’t know until they’re functioning, but feels certain properties could see decreases, while others may increase and others would see little or no change.
“That’s what we don’t know yet,” said Scott. “Time will tell how much it will affect them.”
Severences for homes in agricultural areas, immediately adjacent to turbine sites, will see the most negative impact and “won’t see any more value” after they arrive. But he said heavily treed areas, which reduce the visibility of the turbines, may see little or no impact.
“I’ve seen buyers interested in properties… asked questions about wind power and then they walked away,” he said, adding that every buyer has a different preference.
Meanwhile, agricultural lands hosting the sites could see an increase of up to 10 per cent in value, as the turbines can be considered a cash crop and add to the value.
Adjacent agricultural lands with no homes in the immediate area aren’t expected to see any impact, Scott said.
Gail MacKay, sales representative for Royal LePage Exchange Realty, said she’s concerned for land owners north, south, east and west of the turbine sites, as they won’t see any compensation for the devaluation of their land.
“Some are trying to sell, but they’re not having much luck,” MacKay said. “They’re not getting market value. A lot of people just don’t want them in their backyards.”
She’s talked to many people who feel neighbours of turbines should also be compensated for the loss in value, on top of those making money from the project.
“But that’s not going to happen,” she said.
MacKay feels the projects are pitting landowners against one another, while many questions remain unanswered by the government regarding noise, health concerns and other issues that have been raised. She said only time will tell if land values will recover.
“It could take a while, but I’m not sure if they’ll ever go back up,” she said.
Lynn Clayton, Kincardine Coldwell Banker: The Property Shoppe broker, said he’s heard “different schools of thought” on the issue, but said he doesn’t believe there’s any proof of adverse impacts on values.
“But whether that will take place remains to be seen,” Clayton said.
He also expected agricultural land values to remain consistent and said in areas like Bruce Township, where much of the Enbridge project is focused and fewer residential severences exist over a larger area. He said it’s speculative to think there would be an automatic price devaluation because of the turbines.
“There may be some adjustment, but I don’t buy into automatic price devaluation,” said Clayton.
Both Enbridge and Suncor said they have no knowledge of impacts on land values with their other projects in western Canada and don’t believe there will be much of an impact.
“Any study we have doesn’t indicate properties being negatively affected,” said Enbridge’s Bob Simpson.
“We don’t have any historical information on tax bases, rents or land values from our current developments to go on,” said Suncor spokesperson Brad Bellows.
Simpson said transmission lines caused similar concerns when they were erected and since turbines leave a small footprint, their studies from the United States, Canada and Europe give no indication of property devaluation.
Bellows said their three other projects, two in Alberta and one in Saskatchewan, have been well received by their surrounding communities. He said many find turbines “˜graceful’ and said the visual impact is the only other concern.
“What it comes down to is a person’s opinion,” he said. “If they have any concerns, we’re listening.”
By Troy Patterson
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