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Property values in the balance

Here are remarks from EverPower’s 2011 application for a zoning permit: “No evidence is provided in the comments to support the assertions of property value impacts. However, even if such occurrences do exist they are either too small or too infrequent to result in any widespread, statistically observable impact.”

On Jan. 25, Douglas Ward, an attorney for EverPower, took the microphone and said he believed David Koebelin should recuse himself from voting on the matter because his economic interests would be adversely affected if this project would move forward. The ensuing exchange between Mr. Ward and Allegany’s special counsel established that the economic interest referred to was the value of Mr. Koebelin’s Hawthorn Lane home.

As of Aug. 1, three Hawthorn Lane properties are for sale. The prices for two have been reduced from earlier figures; the third was listed more recently. A buyer for one pulled out after learning about the wind farm.

Realization is spreading through the realty community that Allegany Wind LLC is negatively impacting local property values. All residents with a view to the turbines should be alarmed. Our homes were devalued the moment the turbine farm was proposed.

Many homeowners have been lulled into thinking that the project has been abandoned because the expected construction has not begun. A primary reason is that Congress has not yet renewed the lucrative federal subsidies, which are in election-year gridlock. Once they are again made available, possibly very soon, EverPower will be positioned to begin construction.

Only then will Allegany homeowners comprehend the full magnitude of their resultant property value losses. Hawthorn Lane will afford a magnificent view of the turbines across Four Mile valley. In part, that will be because the turbines approved by our town supervisor are larger than others for any similar ridgeline installations operating in the Northeast. These massive rotating power plants will be nearly 500 feet tall and visible more than those at EverPower’s operation in the town of Howard near Hornell.

Since ridgeline machines this monstrous so close to residences are largely unprecedented, Allegany has scant real-world data for approving them. Their true impacts won’t be known for decades. Hence, over the 20-year lifetime of the agreement, we Allegany residents living in the town’s south district will serve as test subjects for collecting such data.

How can our town supervisor, himself protected by living miles away from Chipmonk, be comfortable with placing other Allegany citizens in this situation? Why, then, has he steadfastly directed his board to be so indecisive and ineffective in dealing with an issue even the former supervisor acknowledged as the most important in Allegany’s history?

As for Hawthorn Lane, it is already apparent that Councilman Koebelin was right to be anxious for the value of his home. The real estate impacts of these turbines are real. This distressing reality will become clearer to Allegany residents once the construction of Allegany Wind LLC commences full-tilt. Then, we residents will know our town government agrees that our personal losses are either too small or too infrequent to be considered a statistically observable impact.

Additional homes are now for sale in the Four Mile, West Branch, Klice Crossroads and other neighborhoods. But, it has only just begun – the exodus will escalate when convoys of earth-moving equipment roll down local roads. Neighboring communities will be inconvenienced for decades by construction, repair, maintenance and emergency vehicles. Turbine blight spreads; those towns may be next.

Homeowners and developers are already confronted with their holdings being worth less than before Allegany Wind LLC was initiated. Buyers are not going to pay top dollar in neighborhoods with nearby viewscapes dominated by spinning industrial behemoths protruding far above the Enchanted Mountains to light our night skies. There is growing concern worldwide regarding adverse health impacts from rotor noise at substantial distances from turbines. Who will want to buy homes near Allegany’s turbine town, exposing their families to such unpredictable risks?

Litigation against the turbine farm brought by Allegany citizens is being abandoned, further clearing the way for construction. Watch property values tank next year when the turbine farm Supervisor John Hare voted for, against the wishes of the majority of the electorate, actually materializes.

We don’t all live way out on Karl Road.

(Mr. Henderson lives on Chipmonk Road in Allegany.)