Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A new slant on wind farms

Jerusalem, N.Y. — John Grabski, representing the Jerusalem Preservation Association, brought a seldom explored topic to the subject of wind farms at the Oct. 20 Jerusalem Town Council meeting - economic devaluation.

Public discussions on wind farms usually include noise, flicker, dead birds and discontented cows. Grabski pointed to those briefly, but his main point was to suggest measures to protect against personal property value loss.
Instead of looking at the big picture of how much money wind turbines could bring to the town and landowners, he pointed out in a detailed approach how money could be lost long term.

“According to expert organizations such as professional Certified Real Estate Appraisers, industrial wind development adversely impacts land values within the immediate wind-zone and a peripheral area of approximately two miles,” according to Grabski.

He based his data on research conducted by the Certified Real Estate Appraisers in various states for property within two miles of wind turbines. He then applied this formula to the 346 homes and land affected by wind development, as defined by the Town of Jerusalem as a possible site. He then narrowed it down to 180 parcels located in the immediate vicinity or High Impact Area.

According to the findings, the property value of the 180 parcels is $18,674,000 which generates $356,000 in school and property taxes annually.

Based on CREA studies, property value declines from 20 to 43 percent can be expected in parcels within two miles of turbine sites. Assuming an average of this estimate, the taxable loss would be $5,602,200 for the 180 homes.

Over the term of a 20 year wind project, the tax revenue loss could be $2,780,571 to $5,561,014, according to calculations, based on the formula.

Grabski said a bondposated by the wind developer would help with lost tax revenue, and added, “People would start to sell and others would ask for lower assessments. It’s happening all over the country.”

“If what developers say is true, and there is no desire on the part of landowners to exit the development area, and that newcomers will continue to seek and purchase property in the wind zone, then there should be no negative impact on property values. If this is true, wind developers should be both willing and able to provide a property value guaranty to landowners with no economic risk on their part. Conversely, if property values indeed decline, then neither the wind company nor the town at large should profit at the expense of the home and land owners,” said Grabski in his address to the board.

The Jerusalem Preservation Association recommends putting a Property Value Bond requirement into the Wind Ordinance to protect both the citizens of Jerusalem from personal loss and the Town from citizens seeking remedy or remuneration for damage or economic loss from wind farm development.

The organization also presented the board with three pages of other recommendations for the wind turbine law dealing with setbacks, noise, health and other issues.

The Jerusalem Preservation Association was formed in the summer of 2009, when some residents learned areas near their properties were being proposed as possible wind farm sites. The group is also discussing the risks of Marcellus Shale drilling.

The Jerusalem Town Board has been exploring the possibility of wind turbines in the town for a few years. A committee was formed and several public meetings have been held, but there has been no action.
Councilman Neil Simmons, who was active in the public meetings, thanked Grabski for bringing to light a different approach that the town hadn’t looked at before.

Councilman Ray Stewart asked people in the audience of about 40, how many were there in regard to this topic. About 30 raised their hands. Grabski said the association could have filled the parking lot, “But the topic is too important to make a circus of it.”

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