The Vermont town lister has become the best friend of any opponent living near an industrial wind turbine farm. The premise of this new-found customer relationship will certainly set off fireworks in the pursuit of state renewable energy policy. Annoying sound does indeed diminish property values. The trend raises the stakes in the entrenched wind turbine conflict to a different decibel level.
It can now be said true power lies not only the mountaintops but in the hand of listers and town boards that check out your petition and make a decision whether to lower assessed value, which means a lower tax bill. In one case, as reported in the Sunday Free Press, the value of property was decreased by a whopping $50,000 from a price of nearly $410,000 because of proximity to a wind turbine. A homeowner saw a $700 reduction in the annual tax bill.
Now that’s real cash gained because of financial harm – bona fide or perceived, it doesn’t matter. Though in terms of reducing enjoyment of property because of noise, altered views or flicking lights, this change is not exactly a favorable return on investment.
The advocates for industrial wind contend real-life data are needed to prove that property values have indeed dropped, not because of a lister’s opinion. Obtaining legitimate sales information could take a decade.
The lister does not wait that long and is as real life as you can get in Vermont, with experience in evaluating property values who’ve been elected by their townspeople to use common sense and look out for residents’ interests.
There is nothing worth fighting harder for than the value of one’s castle, as Gov. Peter Shumlin learned when he bought a neighbor’s house destined for tax auction. He was needled into giving back his purchase to the property holder after a firestorm of bad publicity.
Reducing the assessed value on a residence has a tangible impact on the taxes of homeowners, but more so provides a shot of optimism that complaints over wind turbines are being taken legitimately by officialdom as vested in the town lister. This message is trumpeted with a guarantee of authenticity via the public record of Vermont.
Are the local listers right?
If they’re wrong on assessing property near a wind turbine, then they are likely wrong on every residential unit they assess. That hardly seems a challengeable proposition.
Developers and the state need to enter this new factor into the formula for moving ahead with future turbine projects. Homeowners are surrendering more than a view of raw nature. And someone must pay the price for Vermont’s energy policy.