DIXON – No agreement emerged during a meeting Thursday on whether wind turbines affect nearby property values.
Wind industry supporters argued that turbines had little or no effect, while opponents said they cause property values to drop.
However, many seemed open to a home seller protection program for properties near turbines.
Thursday, the Lee County Zoning Board of Appeals considered such a program included in a proposed Ogle County ordinance.
The ordinance details a complex appraisal process, in which the homeowner and the wind energy company each would choose an appraiser. In the end, if appraisers find that a home sold for less because of nearby turbines, then the wind energy company would pay the difference.
County Assessor Wendy Ryerson said the proposal was mostly workable, even though she said she hadn’t seen evidence that turbines cause property values to drop. Still, she said, there was no harm in having the program.
She said it would be tough for appraisers to pinpoint the cause of a drop in property values to any one factor, including wind farms. They likely would need to rely on their expert opinions because there wouldn’t be much comparable information on which to base their data, she said.
But she said that wouldn’t be the wind energy company’s or county’s problem.
Mike Pratt, a member of the Zoning Board, seemed open to much of the Ogle County proposal. However, he wanted to strike the portion that could require a wind energy company to buy a house if it couldn’t sell for at least 5 months.
Ryerson agreed, saying that most homes are on the market for longer than 5 months now.
Matt Boss, a representative of Ireland-based Mainstream Renewable Power, questioned the appraisal process in the home seller protection program.
He said no one has proved property value loss because of turbines before. So he questioned how the appraisers would come to any such conclusions in a specific situation.
“This is a recipe for conflict,” he said.
Mainstream is planning a wind farm for Lee, Whiteside and Bureau counties.
The Zoning Board didn’t take any action on the home protection program. Two of its five members, Tom Fassler and Craig Buhrow, weren’t present, possibly because it’s the height of the harvest. All of the board members are farmers.
The board has been meeting twice a month since the summer considering changes to the county’s ordinance for wind farms. None of the members had been absent during the process until Thursday. They are expected to complete their work by the end of the year.
Their recommendations will be referred to the County Board, which has the final say.
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