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November 29. 2012 11:05PM
NH wind-farm builder Iberdola facing lawsuit in N.Y. over wind noise
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By DAN SEUFERT
Union Leader Correspondent
ALEXANDRIA – As opponents of Iberdrola Renewables’ proposed wind-farm project in three Newfound-area towns were planning strategies last month, a group of 60 residents in three upstate New York towns filed suit against Iberdrola, claiming the noise from the wind farm there is making them ill and forcing them to leave their homes.

Iberdrola, the Spain-based company that is the second-largest wind-energy operator in America, had the support of many residents in rural Herkimer County, N.Y., when it brought its 37-tower, $200 million Hardscrabble Wind Power Project online in 2011, according to reports.

But in a 49-page complaint filed last month, the plaintiffs, who live within a mile or two of the wind farm in Fairfield, Middleville, and Norway, N.Y., are charging the Iberdrola companies with negligence, private nuisance, trespass and product liability violations for building the project without adequately considering the impact on residents.

Plaintiffs said the 476-foot turbines are bigger and noisier than developers promised residents.

As a result, they say, residents near the wind farm are dealing with loud noise each day.

In the complaint, many said the noise is causing headaches and added stress. Some claimed the project has caused sediment in their drinking water.

One plaintiff said the cows at her dairy farm have been less productive since the turbines began turning.

Others claim they can’t sleep with the noise.

Bernadette Baylor and Richard Baylor Jr., two of the plaintiffs, said Wednesday that the project has prevented them from selling their house.

Because of the turbines’ noise, they abandoned their home and were forced to file for bankruptcy, Bernadette Baylor said.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs seek punitive damages. “(Iberdrola officials) acted willfully, recklessly, were grossly negligent, and/or acted with a conscious disregard,” the plaintiffs stated in court documents.

Iberdrola USA, an affiliate of Iberdrola Renewables, is named as the defendant in the suit along with other Iberdrola companies and affiliates.

Some residents in Grafton, Danbury, and Alexandria have publicly expressed support for Iberdrola Renewables’ Wild Meadows Wind Power Project, while opponents formed the Newfound Lake Wind Watch group to fight it.

Opponents say the towers on the ridge lines will ruin the scenic beauty of Newfound Lake and the Mount Cardigan State Park, as well as drop land values and reduce tourism dollars in the area.

The company has leased the 600 acres it needs for the project from landowners, but the state’s permitting process has not started yet and may take a year to complete.

The company does not need permits from the towns.

In previous meetings with residents of the three towns, Iberdrola Renewables project manager Ed Cherian said the impacts on residents from the Wild Meadows project would be minimal.

The company cites independent studies concluding there should be no substantial noise problem from wind power turbines, and Cherian said the company’s other wind-farm projects have been received well by residents.
dseufert@newstote.com

Wind farms DO hit house prices: Government agency finally admits that thousands can be wiped off value of homes
By Gerri Peev, Daily Mail UK
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2177429/Wind-farms-DO-hit-house-prices-Government-agency-finally-admits-thousands-wiped-value-homes.html

PUBLISHED: 16:31 EST, 22 July 2012 | UPDATED: 03:52 EST, 24 July 2012

Wind farms can wipe tens of thousands of pounds off the value of homes, a government agency has admitted for the first time.

The Valuation Office Agency has been forced to re-band homes into lower council tax categories, confirming what most residents who live near the giant turbines already know: they are detrimental to property prices.

The move will make it harder for the wind farm industry to dismiss public concerns over the impact of their turbines.

Financial impact: Wind farms, such as this one near the village of Bothel in Cumbria, Lake District, have been found to impact the price of nearby homes. At least five homeowners have seen their properties officially downgraded by the VOA because of their proximity to windfarms.

But only cases that go to appeal are made public by the agency, suggesting many more applications have been received for council tax discounts.

In one case, a couple saw the value of their home near the Fullabrook wind farm site near Braunton, Devon, fall from £400,000 to £300,000 when they asked estate agents to value it.

The home is 650 yards from three of the turbines and the couple feared that the noise and visual dominance of the turbines would not only de-value their home, but make it impossible to sell.

The VOA agreed to put the home from council tax F to band E, saving the couple £400 a year in council tax.

The Valuation Office Agency has been forced to re-band homes near wind farms into lower categories

Many residents in towns such as Llanllwni, in West Wales, have campaigned against wind farms being built near their homes. Families living in the seaside Suffolk village of Kessingland have also applied to be put into a lower council tax band as many of their homes are near 400ft turbines.

When one resident, Sue Price, put her home up for sale last year for £460,000, she found a buyer. But they pulled out when local papers reported that the wind farms were about to be erected and estate agents told her to drop her price, she told the Sunday Times.

‘We went down to £360,000 and still could not sell so now we have taken it off the market,’ she said.

Waveney Council which covers the area has admitted that the constant swooshing noise does constitute a ‘statutory nuisance’, and is working on a technical solution with the wind farm operators, Triodos Renewables.

Recent council-tax rebandings by the Valulation Office are the first admission by an arms-length government body that house prices can be dented by wind farms.

This is despite other studies pointing to their detrimental effects, including the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors who pointed out in a 2007 report that homes within one mile of wind farms would lose value.

One in five prospective buyers rate peace and quiet as their number one priority when looking at a house, according to an Alliance and Leicester survey.

Val Weedon, the honorary president of the UK Noise Association, said wind farms would have an impact on people’s quality of life and therefore house prices.

She said: ‘These re-valuations will set a precedent which the wind farm industry does not want. Wind farm noise is like road and airport noise, it has an impact on property prices.’

‘Noise is also associated with headaches and nausea as it is a form of stress, so it can also have a detrimental effect on your health.’

It was revealed last week that every home in Britain will pay £88 to build a vast network of pylons in a £22billion project to link wind farms to the national grid.

Bills will start to rise next year under the controversial plans revealed by industry regulator Ofgem.

An average of £11 will be added annually for eight years, making £88 in total on top of any other increases.

The industry was recently dealt a blow by Chancellor George Osborne, who demanded huge cuts in government aid for wind farms.

The Chancellor told the Treasury to draw up plans for a reduction of 25 per cent in subsidies for onshore wind farms.

A VOA spokesman said: ‘The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) is responsible for keeping council tax bands up to date in England and Wales. We do not record the number of occasions where a band challenge is made by a taxpayer due to the proximity of a wind turbine/farm.

‘If a taxpayer believes that the value of their home has been reduced by a substantial physical change to their locality, then they may be entitled to make a proposal to alter their band.

‘The proposal will be considered by the VOA, which may or may not result in a band change. If the taxpayer disagrees with the decision of the VOA, there is a right of appeal to an independent Valuation Tribunal.’
______________

Acoustic Energy Institute – Town, wind company spar over property-value rules

A new but long-simmering front has opened in the push-and-pull struggle between wind companies advocating the status quo and communities uncertain about how to deal with reports they hear from elsewhere that suggest industrial-scale wind farms have unintended consequences, including chronic noise impacts and reduced property values.

This may not be the first time it’s bubbled to the surface, but it’s the first one I’ve noticed: the Hammond, NY Town Council is considering a ordinance that would require wind farm developers to compensate property owners who see drops in their land values because of the presence of wind turbines. The proposal also requires the company to buy out any property owner who objects to living near a turbine. Iberdrola Renewables says these provisions in the rules “would eliminate any possibility” for a planned wind project in town. Read the rest of this entry…

September 22, 2010 – Greg Fladager in Casper Journal – Properties ‘virtually unmarketable’
Taylor said in his report that rural property close to town is usually in good demand, and noted he’s the agent for one parcel in the area. He has had over 50 inquiries on his listing in about two months, but 40 dropped interest after learning about the location. “In follow-up with the inquiries, the number one reason for not having genuine interest in this property is because of the proximity of the wind towers.”

August 30, 2010 – Lauren Azar – Wisconsin Commissioner recommends added protection for those harmed by turbines
Wisconsin PSC commissioner Lauren Azar submitted this important letter to the Wisconsin legislature in response to newly recommended siting standards for wind energy facilities in the State. Commissioner Azar argues in the letter that the standards recommended do not go far enough in protecting individuals who experience harm from the towers.

To begin our discussion we refer you to the Montville site. As we learn more about our declining values here on Vinalhaven we will keep you posted.

A look at real estate studies.

http://www.windaction.org/releases/25672

Testimony of Michael McCann on property value impacts in Adams County IL

June 8, 2010 by Michael S. McCann CRA

Summary:

Certified appraiser Michael S. McCann submitted this testimony to the Adams County Board, Adams County Illinois in reference the impact of industrial scale wind energy development on residential property. Mr. McCann’s provides a detail explanation of the impacts he has found and his recommendations to avoid harm to property when siting projects. An excerpt of his testimony is provided below. The full testimony can be accessed via the link at the bottom of this page.

SUMMARY OF OPINIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Opinions

1. Residential property values are adversely and measurably impacted by close proximity of industrial-scale wind energy turbine projects to the residential properties, with value losses measured up to 2-miles from the nearest turbine(s), in some instances.

2. Impacts are most pronounced within “footprint” of such projects, and many ground-zero homes have been completely unmarketable, thus depriving many homeowners of reasonable market-based liquidity or pre-existing home equity.

3. Noise and sleep disturbance issues are mostly affecting people within 2-miles of the nearest turbines and 1-mile distances are commonplace, with many variables and fluctuating range of results occurring on a household by household basis.

4. Real estate sale data typically reveals a range of 25% to approximately 40% of value loss, with some instances of total loss as measured by abandonment and demolition of homes, some bought out by wind energy developers and others exhibiting nearly complete loss of marketability.

5. Serious impact to the “use & enjoyment” of many homes is an on-going occurrence, and many people are on record as confirming they have rented other dwellings, either individual families or as a homeowner group-funded mitigation response for use on nights when noise levels are increased well above ambient background noise and render their existing homes untenable.

6. Reports often cited by industry in support of claims that there is no property value, noise or health impacts are often mischaracterized, misquoted and/or are unreliable. The two most recent reports touted by wind developers and completed in December 2009 contain executive summaries that are so thoroughly cross-contingent that they are better described as “disclaimers” of the studies rather than solid, scientifically supported conclusions. Both reports ignore or fail to study very relevant and observable issues and trends.

7. If Adams County approves a setback of 1,000 feet, 1,500 feet, or any distance less than 2-miles, these types of property use and property value impacts are likely to occur to the detriment of Adams County residences and citizens for which the nearest turbines are proposed to be located.

8. The approval of wind energy projects within close proximity to occupied homes is tantamount to an inverse condemnation, or regulatory taking of private property rights, as the noise and impacts are in some respects a physical invasion, an easement in gross over neighboring properties, and the direct impacts reduce property values and the rights of nearby neighbors.

9. A market value reduction of $6.5 million is projected for the residential property located in the footprint and within 2-miles of the pending Prairie Mills project located in east Adams County.

Recommendations

Therefore, if the County Board should choose to adopt the industry requested minimal setbacks, or some other setback of less than 2-miles from residential uses or occupied dwellings or structures such as schools, churches and nursing homes, I have developed a series of recommendations that would at least partially mitigate the widely experienced impacts prevalent with industrial scale wind turbines developments, as follows:

1. A Property Value Guarantee (PVG) should be required of the developer(s), significantly similar to the PVG attached hereto as Appendix A. A County-controlled fund or developer bond should be required to guarantee no undue delay in PVG payment(s) to legitimately affected homeowners, and/or to buy out homeowners located within 2-miles of any turbines if they elect to relocate away from the turbine project(s) and cannot sell for the pre-project market value of their properties. Such a guarantee is nominal in cost, relative to total project costs, and are used to condition high impact land use approvals such as landfills and even limestone quarries, as well as other wind energy developments (i.e. DeKalb County, Illinois, etc.)

2. An alternative to the bonding element of Recommendation # 1 would be to require that the developer(s) obtain a specialized insurance policy from a high risk insurance carrier or legitimate insurer, such as Lloyds of London, if they will even insure against such impacts. If Lloyds was unwilling to provide such insurance, however, that should be compelling to the County that professional risk-management actuaries find such projects too risky for even them to insure. Under those possible circumstances the burden of risk is fairly placed with the developer, rather than the residential occupants who are being surrounded or otherwise directly impacted by close proximity of the projects.

3. If Adams County decides to permit projects, the limited evidence of impacts beyond a 2-mile setback would mitigate against the need for a PVG as cited in recommendation # 1.

4. If Adams County decides to permit projects, I recommend that the County require developer funding and a plan to constantly monitor not only sound levels in McCann Appraisal, LLC decibels, but also in low frequency noise emissions from the turbines utilizing the best available technology, or at least homeowner reports and logs. There is significant evidence and personal accounts confirming that low frequency sound/noise is “felt” by nearby occupants, and, as I understand it, cannot be measured by decibels as audible noise is typically measured. Disclosure of the owner’s actual experience to prospective buyers is necessary from both an ethical perspective and, I believe potentially under the Illinois Real Property Disclosure Act, as a “known” defect or detrimental condition. Thus, documentation should be created at the cost of the developer(s), to insure that appropriate disclosures can be made to any prospective buyer(s) of homes within the 2-mile zone.

5. Appropriate devices should be installed at the developers expense at all occupied dwellings and property lines within a 2-mile distance of any turbines, and the County should retain the ability to immediately enforce the shut-down of any turbines exceeding a level of 10 decibels or more above ambient background noise levels from any property/home experiencing that exceeded noise level. The proximity of constant or frequent noise sources is an adverse impact to the use and enjoyment of a residential property, and indicates a basis for loss of property value.

6. An alternative to recommendation # 5 would be to place a limit on hours of operation, requiring turbines within 2 miles of any occupied (non-participating) dwelling be shut off during normal sleeping hours (i.e. 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.).

7. If the County finds that the wind energy projects are desirable from a economic development goal or perspective, or for the “public good”, I recommend that “footprint” and 2-mile distant neighboring homeowners (measured to lot line from the furthest span of turbine blades) be afforded the opportunity to sell to either the developer or the County, with possible use of eminent domain powers employed by the County, on behalf of and at the expense of the developer(s).

8. The financial assurance for decommissioning and reclamation of wind turbine pad sites, i.e., a bonding requirement, is also recommended as a County condition. To demonstrate solvency companies should pay the bond
requirements before starting construction. It’s basically insurance in case the company goes bankrupt or otherwise abandons the wind project without taking down the turbines and reclaiming the land. Coal mines, quarries, landfills and drilling companies have similar bond or financial assurance requirements.

9. An aesthetic landscaping requirement for wind project developers to plant mature trees or groves to shield the view between residential properties and turbines. Evergreens planted along property lines and/or other types of trees strategically planted between residential windows and turbines would partially alleviate aesthetic impacts from turbines.

10. The County should consider a moratorium on wind energy project development(s) in Adams County, until such time as:
* A thorough and complete Wind Energy Ordinance is developed and adopted by the County, which incorporates all the protection and authority of zoning, building and health codes.
* Appropriate Conditional or Special Use standards are developed and adopted, to insure wind developers carry the burden of their for-profit projects rather than the hosting jurisdiction(s) and/or neighboring property owners.
* The actual experiences of numerous existing turbine neighbors is documented thoroughly by an impartial group of professionals with appropriate qualifications in the various relevant fields of expertise, i.e., acoustic engineers, medical sciences, valuation professionals, etc.
The preceding recommendations are not intended to be all inclusive or to address all wind energy project issues and impacts. They are intended to address issues that affect the public health, safety and welfare of area residents, as well as their property values.

Download File(s):
McCann Appraisal, LLC written testimony re Setbacks & property values June 8 2010.pdf (5.07 MB)

Filed under : Property Values : Illinois

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