November 6, 2012
New York, Opinions

Wind farms drop property values

By Mary Burns Special to the Olean Times Herald | November 6, 2012 |

The EverPower wind farm proposes 29 turbines, 494 feet tall, towering over homes on Chipmonk Road, Four Mile Road, Knapp Creek and Birch Run.

Many other homes and businesses in Allegany, Olean and Carrollton, including St. Bonaventure University, Rock City Park and St. Elizabeth’s Motherhouse will have a view of the turbines for decades ahead.

The Allegany Town Board members have been apprised of the concerns of property owners surrounding the wind energy facility.

A National Research Council (NRC) study submitted to the Allegany Town Board showed that of existing property value studies near wind energy facilities, few studies focus on non-farm, residential property in close proximity to (not bordering, but in the vicinity of) a wind farm, and “forecasts of property values in prospective host areas that are based on comparisons with existing host areas are of questionable validity, especially if there are significant differences between the areas.”

However, studies in Wisconsin and Ontario, Canada, show alarming drops in the value of residential real property near turbines. Therefore, the NRC recommends wind energy project sponsors “provide property-value guarantees to property owners within a specified distance from the facility when they want to sell their properties.”

EverPower has never proposed doing this.

Homeowners are legitimately alarmed by the prospect of the loss of value in their primary investment. Residents also submitted to the board a study performed by the Appraisal Group One, Wind Turbine Impact Study, in Wisconsin, where property in “bordering proximity” to wind-energy facilities lost a whopping 39 percent to 43 percent. Losses continue in property that is in “close proximity” with up to 36 percent loss, while property in “near proximity” saw a negative impact of 24 percent to 29 percent.

The study further found that having a turbine within view caused the property value to plummet 30 percent.

While many property owners did not receive official assessment reductions this past year because the wind-energy facility is not yet constructed, real property values in the area have already suffered. Recent letters in this paper have brought this fact to the attention of our representatives.

There are no comparable real property value studies taking into account the character of our area and the extreme wind-energy installation now proposed for Chipmonk. The turbines in the Wisconsin study referenced above are 389 feet tall. Another study released this month by Lansink Appraisals & Consulting, Case Study, Diminution in Value, Wind Turbine Analysis, found that residential (non-farm) property near a wind farm in Ontario, Canada, lost 38.8 percent of its value. The turbines in the Canadian study are 393 feet tall.

Turbines for the Allegany project will dwarf those of the Wisconsin and Canadian studies. EverPower will make the citizens of Allegany, young and old, the research population for this colossal experiment on wind turbines for their own profit.

What would happen if your home lost 40 percent or more of its value? This is the agonizing reality for residents and property owners in Chipmonk, Knapp Creek, the Four Mile and the Birch Run. Note that our individual losses will also reverberate throughout the community.

Recently, the assessment rolls in Wolfe Island (on the St. Lawrence Seaway) were reduced by $3 million dollars because homes in close proximity to turbines lost value. (The turbines on Wolfe Island are 410 feet, 84 feet shorter than those proposed by EverPower.) The tax rolls for this township show 78 significant assessment reductions since 2008 (the wind farm became operational in 2009). The six homes nearest the turbines lost $100,000 each.

Obviously, wind turbines erected near residential areas have a negative effect on property assessments.

Property owners, residents and business owners should be aware that, while Allegany homeowners pay property taxes at full rate, EverPower would be allowed to make greatly reduced fractional payments. The unavoidable declines in Allegany’s tax rolls will substantially offset any wind farm PILOT payments.

The Allegany Town Board’s responsibility is to protect the health and general welfare of all citizens within the community. Unless the board is able to do the job it was elected to do, decades of weak property values will cause irreparable harm to the town and school tax base.

(Ms. Burns lives in Batavia and owns property on Chipmonk Road, town of Allegany.)

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