KINGSTON – Gail Kenney welcomed a court ruling last week that supports landowners’ right to seek compensation if their property values are lowered by wind turbines.
But she admitted the ruling will likely not help the couple’s property assessment battle.
Last Tuesday, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice dismissed a lawsuit by landowners seeking compensation for lowered property values caused by a proposed wind energy development.
The decision stated that residents could not sue for lost property values before a wind project is approved but they could pursue legal action once a project is approved.
“It is absolutely wonderful, the decision that came down,” Gail Kenney said Monday morning of the new court ruling.
“It’s a fair decision, hopefully it will help people in getting a fair assessment of their property.
“People who are adjacent to wind turbines or live close by have much more issues than just the viewscape. There certainly is the the noise issue and now there is a lot more attention being paid to people who are saying ‘I’m not feeling well.’”
Two years ago Kenney and her husband Ed unsuccessfully appealed the property assessment on their Wolfe Island home on the grounds that the waterfront residence’s value had been lowered by the nearby wind turbines.
Following the April 2012 hearing decision against them, the couple asked for and have been granted a review of the decision by the two-person Assessment Review Board.
“We don’t know where it’s going to go. It’s just my husband and I and we have no idea even what a review entails but we are trying to prepare,” Gail Kenney said.
“It’s hard to fight the Ontario government, particularly two retired people.
“At some point common sense has to prevail here.”
The review of the Kenneys’ case, scheduled for around June 25, was based on their argument that relevant information was not available to them at the time of their appeal hearing, she said.
Also, the hearing accepted inaccurate information about the Kenneys’ property, including a description of it as a farm, she added.
Last week’s ruling was hailed by opponents and supporters of wind developments.
In a statement, Wind Concerns Ontario said the ruling kept the door open to property owners seeking compensation for lowered property values.
“The judge accepts unreservedly that property value is lost for neighbours of these power projects based on the evidence,” stated organization president Jane Wilson.
The organization pointed out the ruling made note of evidence that wind developments can lower property values by between 22 and 50%, a trend Gail Kenney said she has seen play out on Wolfe Island in recent years.
The Canadian Wind Energy Association also welcomed the ruling, saying in a statement that it dismissed a suit against a proposed wind energy development that had not yet been approved.
“As a responsible industry, we continue to communicate with the Ontario Real Estate Association and MPAC to ensure we are reviewing all new and credible information on the important subject of property values,” association president Robert Hornung stated. “Wind energy projects are delivering significant benefits to local economies – creating new jobs and injecting millions of dollars in new revenues for landowners and municipalities.”