CAPE VINCENT – A Chicago-based appraiser has decided that wind turbines in the town will depress property values of homes within two miles of turbines by up to 40 percent.
McCann Appraisal LLC reviewed the town’s wind economics committee’s report, outside sources, company research and the noise impact assessment from Hessler Associates Inc., Haymarket, Va., from April 2010 for Acciona Wind Energy USA’s St. Lawrence Wind Farm’s final environmental impact statement.
“After completing my review of the subject location, it is clear that numerous homes in the Cape Vincent area will be adversely impacted, and the best available evidence indicates that value loss of 25 to 40 percent or more will occur to homes within approximately two miles of the turbines,” principal Michael S. McCann wrote. “This impact is not expected to be uniform, and some losses may well be lower and others higher.”
The committee asked Mr. McCann to review the report and other evidence. Town taxpayer money did not support the analysis; private citizens donated for the cause.
Local wind power opposition group Wind Power Ethics Group did not support the effort as an organization, President John L. Byrne said, but the group is pleased with the results.
“McCann’s report basically came out with same conclusions that the committee came up with, except he said the committee was too conservative,” he said. “I thought it was a fair report; it was honest and professionally done.”
But local wind power proponents call the study into question.
“The studies that we have seen have reported pretty much across the board insignificant property value decrease,” said Dawn M. Munk, a Three Mile Bay member of Voters for Wind. “And in those cases where there was a decrease in property value, it was usually before the installation of the wind farm or immediately thereafter. Then, property values went back up very quickly.”
Anecdotally, Mrs. Munk said residents of Wolfe Island have told her that more homes have been built on the island since Wolfe Island Wind Farm was erected and that older homes continue to sell.
“All of the people I spoke with said that there had not been any decrease in property values,” she said. “The wind farm, in all ways, has been a boon to every aspect of the community and the economy.”
Mr. McCann has found value losses for distances farther than three miles in other areas and believed turbines would hurt the local assessment values, which run more than $310 million.
“I concur with the conclusions indicated in the EIR that a significant risk is represented by the proposed wind turbine projects, as a large portion of the value base is located within a few miles of the proposed turbines,” Mr. McCann wrote. “Waterfront property and property with prime views and vistas are particularly vulnerable to higher dollar loss, if not the percentage of value, since many waterfront homes are second homes or retirement homes, and buyers/owners are not motivated by local employment trends.”
The analysis warns that the full effect may take years to understand.
In addition to outside sources, McCann cited sale data from Lee County in Illinois that showed homes within two miles of a turbine had a sale price that was 25 percent lower per square foot than homes outside the 2-mile perimeter.
Outside studies show losses of 20 to 40 percent and other homes are acquired by developers and re-sold for losses of up to 80 percent.
Including the noise assessment allowed the appraiser to consider whether the generation of more noise would affect the quality of life, aesthetics and overall marketability of property.
“From a real estate perspective, it is a simple matter to mitigate against the majority of noise-related sleep disturbances, by turning them off at night when neighbors are trying to sleep,” McCann wrote. “Health issues are also correlate to noise and sleep disturbance, and the property value declines measured in multiple turbine project locations confirms there is a stigma, or market aversion to buying homes in project areas.”
McCann said compliance with noise ordinances, which measure distances in feet, won’t make much of a difference in property values, which is related more to distance from projects in miles.
Hessler’s report “is not a reliable document for determining likely impacts on property value,” McCann wrote. “Aesthetics can be severely impacted even when turbines are not audible.”
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