The following is a letter to the editor where the author expresses his thoughts and findings in regards to property values. All of us should encourage our councils to protect our equity.
Letter to the editor:
I wish to share with you and the citizens of Huron East the information I have found recently regarding wind turbines and their effect on property values. Of course when contacting Veresen Inc (St Columban’s proponents) with this concern-they stated that they didn’t EXPECT any effect on my property value and they proceeded to send me a study that was supposed to reassure me of this. Upon further investigation-the study merely dealt with farmland (it doesn’t take an expert to know that it has gone up everywhere in the last several years). It made no mention of rural residential property.
I began by getting a property appraisal done by a licensed realtor in the area since I was cautioned that if I waited until after the project’s completion-value loss could not be attributed solely to the project itself. The appraisal confirmed my suspicion that in fact my property would be de-valued (it was just a question of by how much). The report stated that: “Wind turbines and their infrastructure are considered to have questionable environmental and habitation elements that would effect value trending and marketability.” Another quote from the report indicated: “This property is potentially subject to hydro transmission. This factor is considered to be a detriment in the marketing and value trending for the subject property.” Who would you believe: a wind company that stands to gain financially or a licensed real estate appraiser? Our appraiser went onto explain that not only the “project area” for the wind farm will be affected (his prediction was 20-40% decrease in value-depending on how close to the project area you are) but that the whole municipality can be associated with the wind project in the mind of a potential “outside-the-municipality” buyer. MLS now requires you to disclose how close to a wind project your property is as well as disclosing anything that could have an environmental impact on the property. He stated that the high-powered line (buried or not) would have to be disclosed to a potential buyer.
I proceeded to inform Huron East council in a deputation of the appraisal’s findings and I was told that they may be interested in pursuing a bylaw that could protect property values against any business that could potentially lower a neighbouring property’s value (not specific to a wind farm). The example used by council was that if your next door neighbour put up a large paint booth and fumes and overspray drifted onto your car and into your house windows-compensation by the business owner would only make sense- as it would affect the potential re-sale of your property. Council told me that proof needed to be provided that MPAC assessments were in fact dropping near wind farms before considering such a bylaw.
I began to research cases where assessments were being appealed based on proximity to wind turbines (this number is growing in the province astronomically). The most prominent of these being in Amaranth Township (near Shelbourne) where a landowner received a significant reduction in his assessment due to a transformer from the wind farm there being placed too close to his house. There was a loud hum produced by it and he was unable to sell his house as a result. MPAC dropped his property assessment from $255 000 to $127 000. Many are aware of the Ripley Wind Farm as well and how several houses there were deemed unliveable (and therefore unsellable) due to issues with stray voltage coming from that wind farm. That wind company bought out the houses in exchange for a confidentiality clause as a condition of sale so that they could not go to the media.
After my deputation to council I sent away for a list of property assessment reductions in Wolfe Island Township from MPAC (home to the province’s 2nd largest wind farm). This was provided through the Freedom Of Information Act and now that it has arrived- it clearly shows all the assessment reductions since that wind farm became operational in 2009. The list shows 78 significant assessment reductions since 2008 totalling $3 million. The 6 largest reductions were over $100 000 each (one being as high as $143 000). All these properties are situated very close to the turbines themselves and very clearly shows what can happen to property assessments when wind farms are erected around residential areas. What is to prevent this from happening to Huron East ratepayers (and the municipalities’ tax base)?
Huron East now has in its possession this list from MPAC. I have been informed recently that they, as a council, may no longer be willing to pursue a bylaw to protect our property values. If you would like your equity protected by the municipality-please contact your councillor. Once the St Columban project is operational- it will be too late. Many of the residents around wind projects in the province are now realizing the financial devastation caused by property devaluation and many have lawsuits currently underway (the most prominent right now being in Stayner, ON where not only the wind company is being sued by neighbours, but the host landowners as well). One real estate study that I looked at from Illinois in the U.S. (they’ve had wind farms there long before Ontario) concluded that $8.8 million was the estimated overall loss in property values from just one wind farm there. Veresen Inc (St Columban’s proponents) a multi-million dollar company (not even based in Ontario) and a few local landowners stand to benefit financially from this wind farm. Everyone else in the municipality stands to lose financially (not just in their equity- but also through their provincial tax dollars to subsidize it as well as their rising hydro bills). Please do your part to encourage council to act before your equity is potentially cut by 20-40% as a result of this project.