My house and land is in Prattsburgh, across from turbine sites for the Ecogen wind project, and my wife owns adjacent property in Naples, Ontario County. I've heard some people say "what's happening in the hills with the wind turbines won't affect me." What these folks may not yet realize is that, if these turbines are allowed to damage the value of adjacent properties, their taxes will go up. And the first step in this one-two process has just started.
This April, I appealed the property assessment for a 25-acre parcel owned by my wife in Naples. This property is located close to Ecogen turbine sites, across the line in Steuben County. This appeal for a lower assessment was based upon a re-appraisal, which considered the proximity of the proposed wind turbines, impact on the selling price of comparable properties across from turbine sites in Cohocton, and our resulting inability to build on the property. Last week the Naples assessor lowered the assessment by 60 percent.
Why did we get 60 percent lopped off our tax bill? The reason is starkly clear: The value was sucked out of the property. When wind turbines are built and sited near this property, the land will be bathed in constant industrial noise. It is not only unwise to build there, it would be virtually impossible for any sensible bank to give us a mortgage were we foolish enough to do so. I believe the Naples assessor did a fair and honest job. And while lowering taxes is good, this victory is like ashes in our mouths. What do we really want? Give us back the higher taxes, along with the ability to build on our property!
There are two issues which the citizens of Prattsburgh -- and any town considering wind turbines -- need to consider. Yes, adjacent non-participating landowners will be ruined, hosed by the developers big-time. The 60 percent lowering of our assessment is peanuts compared to what will happen to the value of homes in the shadow of noise-making, health-threatening industrial wind turbines. What the rest of our fellow property owners in town need to realize is this: They will have to help foot the bill.
Let's think it through. Assume our town's budget stays the same. When the many negatively-impacted property and home owners have their assessments justifiably lowered, all the other taxpayers will have to take up the slack -- and pay higher taxes. It's like shifting the balance point on a see-saw: When one side goes down, the other side goes up. This is new reality of life in Prattsburgh.
Welcome to the "benefits" of hosting a wind project with horrendous, damagingly-short setbacks. And don't think this won't happen to you! The wind companies want to put up 5,000 turbines in Upstate New York faster than you can blink. To do this, all they have to do is swing a majority on each town board, often through blatant conflicts-of-interest. As a result, you can almost hear the board members falling on their backs like dominoes. Upstate is being turned into a third world country, and the only ones who will make out in this mess are the foreign project developers, their foreign financiers, and whoever helps "grease the wheels of progress." Our towns will then be left to sort out the damage and find a way to pay for it - through higher taxes.