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Morristown wind group eyes landowner protection

The Morristown Wind Energy Committee is looking at ways to protect landowners from wind power companies that default on taxes. The committee met Wednesday to discuss including a section in its proposed wind law that separates a half-acre parcel for each wind turbine to protect landowners from losing their entire properties if a wind company fails to pay its taxes. The committee suggested surveying the individual parcels and deeding each piece separately.

Members propose dividing parcels with turbines as safeguard in case power companies default on taxes

MORRISTOWN - The Morristown Wind Energy Committee is looking at ways to protect landowners from wind power companies that default on taxes.

The committee met Wednesday to discuss including a section in its proposed wind law that separates a half-acre parcel for each wind turbine to protect landowners from losing their entire properties if a wind company fails to pay its taxes.

The committee suggested surveying the individual parcels and deeding each piece separately. Either both deeds would be held by the original landowner, who could lease out the smaller property to the energy company, or one deed could be sold to the wind company. In both cases, only the half-acre would be subject to tax sale and foreclosure if the company does not pay its taxes.

"We're looking at the options to see what is the best way to help protect the landowner from becoming responsible for this huge tax burden if the wind company were to leave and they're left sitting there with this $3 million piece of equipment on their land," committee member Clive B. Chambers said.

The committee suggested creating a... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Members propose dividing parcels with turbines as safeguard in case power companies default on taxes

MORRISTOWN - The Morristown Wind Energy Committee is looking at ways to protect landowners from wind power companies that default on taxes.

The committee met Wednesday to discuss including a section in its proposed wind law that separates a half-acre parcel for each wind turbine to protect landowners from losing their entire properties if a wind company fails to pay its taxes.

The committee suggested surveying the individual parcels and deeding each piece separately. Either both deeds would be held by the original landowner, who could lease out the smaller property to the energy company, or one deed could be sold to the wind company. In both cases, only the half-acre would be subject to tax sale and foreclosure if the company does not pay its taxes.

"We're looking at the options to see what is the best way to help protect the landowner from becoming responsible for this huge tax burden if the wind company were to leave and they're left sitting there with this $3 million piece of equipment on their land," committee member Clive B. Chambers said.

The committee suggested creating a half-acre plot because local subdivision law requires at least one acre of land to build a house.

Although the committee focused on separating out the parcels, it also discussed assessing the property as a whole, which would require a contract between the landowner and wind company, and creating a suffix parcel, which means the utility tower is assessed separately from the land underneath.

Suffix parcels, however, engender mixed reactions. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority suggests them as an alternative, but notes in the pamphlet "Property Taxes: Exemptions and PILOT" that assessors cannot be compelled to assess the turbines separately to the wind-farm owner instead of to the landowner.

And Kevin R. McAuliffe, a Syracuse attorney who is exploring wind farm taxation issues for Jefferson County and who helped Lewis County negotiate the payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement with Maple Ridge Wind Farm, warned Jefferson County legislators last year not to allow suffix parcels because they are not tied to any legal documents, leaving the landowner legally liable for delinquent taxes.

According to Roger E. Tibbetts, assessor for three Jefferson County towns and the Lewis County town of Harrisburg, separating the parcels is the easiest way to ensure property owners are not held liable.

"The best policy may be to have the owner of the wind farm survey out pieces to be separately assessed out with the turbines. The other way there is some gray area," he said. "Whether they can take the tower down and salvage it with a suffix, I don't know. That's probably going to be tested in court somewhere down the road."

Committee members are researching land agreements for cell towers, gas wells and wind turbine farms in Lewis County, according to Mr. Chambers.

"I think there are other options you can take a look at and the committee really wanted to take a look at what the best option to proceed is here," he said.

The wind committee has tentatively set a meeting for 7 p.m. July 29.


Source: http://www.watertowndailyti...

JUN 28 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/20864-morristown-wind-group-eyes-landowner-protection
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