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Analyst supports property valuation

As an assessment review board hearing draws to a conclusion this week, a Wolfe Island couple says the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation did not take the construction of the 86 windmills into consideration when it assessed their property at $357,000.

Gail and Ed Kenney are seeking to have their home’s assessment lowered.

They say the turbines, 27 of which were built within 3 km of their home, create noise, affect their sleeping habits and may cause ringing in their ears.

The hearing resumed Tuesday after four days of hearings earlier this year.

At Tuesday’s meeting in Marys¬≠ville, the Kenneys questioned Emily Corsi, a property evaluation analyst, about the method used to determine the assessment.

Corsi said wind turbines, which had yet to be built at the time the assessment was done, were not factored into the final outcome.

“Were you or MPAC not aware they were coming? The whole of southern Ontario knew they were coming,” Gail Kenney said.

In her testimony, Corsi provided assessment values for 27 properties sold on Wolfe Island between 2008 and 2010.

She said, on average, the properties sold for more than their assessed value.

Corsi said the Kenneys’ assessment was not affected by the fact that water for the property is drawn from the river or that there is a power line easement along the front of the property.

Gail Kenney said Hydro One warned her that trees growing along the easement could be cut down. If the trees were removed, the property would be left with an unobstructed view of the wind turbines, Gail Kenney said.

Corsi said trees and landscaping do not affect a property’s assessment.

She added that while a property’s location is a factor in determining assessment, being adjacent to wind turbines is not considered when an assessment is done.

Earlier Tuesday, the Kenneys tried to call two witnesses whose submissions ended up being curtailed by objections from lawyers from MPAC and from the Township of the Frontenac Islands.

The Kenneys called Kingston real estate agent Gerry Blacker to give evidence about the impact of the wind turbines on the island’s real estate market.

Objections from MPAC lawyer Shawn Douglas and township attorney Tony Fleming forced Blacker to provide factual evidence only.

Douglas and Fleming successfully argued that because Blacker had not been retained to conduct a formal survey of sales on the island, he could not provide any opinion about sales trends on the island.

Blacker provided examples of residences that sat on the sales market for more than a year following the construction of the wind turbines.

Blacker used the old Wolfe Island canal to divide the island into east and west halves. He said properties on the west side, where the wind turbines were built, took longer to sell.

Fleming countered that if the island is divided along Hwy. 95, a main artery that runs south from Marys­ville, 23 expired sales listings could be found west of the road and 13 located east of the road.

“On the east side of the island, there is no immunity from expired listings,” Fleming said.

The Kenneys also called island resident Darrell Bates, who is also appealing his property’s assessment.

His testimony was also limited because Douglas said Bates’ negotiations with MPAC were a privileged settlement discussion.

The Kenneys tried to submit a letter from Ralph Janicki, a resident of Cape Vincent, N.Y., but it was also rejected by the board after Fleming successfully argued it was not relevant to the Kenneys’ case.

The hearing will resume today with closing arguments and summations.