Turbine trouble in Lee. Wind turbines on October Mountain?
A brand new group, Wise Choices for Lee (WCFL), has sprung up in Lee, Massachusetts. They are seeking rational, well-reasoned policies and projects for their town. The current governing of the town seems fraught with secrecy and behind the scenes political maneuvering by an old boy’s (literally) network. This is combined with a byzantine system of “representative” government which cuts out 99% of the citizens as only sixty some odd people actually get to vote at town meetings.
The flow of information in the town is reportedly a trickle and the town manager, Bob Nason, seems to think he is Joseph Stalin with Lee as his own personal Russia. When WCFL asked to book the town’s meeting space –to bring two informational events to the public in Lee in advance of this year’s town meeting — Nason tried to block them at every turn, claiming it was his responsibility to make sure the “right kind of information” was being presented in what he obviously thinks is his meeting room. He also claimed he did not have time to deal with it. Come on Bob, the room belongs to the residents of Lee — the same people who pay your salary. Deal with it.
Meanwhile, Tom “love me some turbines” Wickham, the head of their “energy” committee, is pushing the town to spend $4,250, in addition to $95,750 of Massachusett’s rate payer’s money on a wind feasibility study without first collecting the data. There is an “sodar” device on the town of Lee’s reservoir dam which is trying to figure out the wind speed for the suggested turbine sites. It has only been there since November and needs a minimum of a year to collect it’s data. Of course this is the exact same machine and methodology which was proven to be disastrously flawed in the Lenox, MA — Weston Solution’s proposal.
Why Lee would ignore recent history, spend money on faulty data collection and then double down on a premature report is beyond our ability to fathom. Wickham personally attended the meeting in Lenox where the Weston’s Solutions representative admitted the data and methodology was compromised and strongly recommended another year long wind data collection study be done (with a MET tower) at the actual site in Lenox before proceeding with the project. How could someone have sat through that meeting and then continue to lead his town down the same wrong path? Unconscionable.
Wickham has reportedly pitched in some of his own money to move the Sodar project along. It is obvious that Wickham should, in the best interests of everyone, recuse himself from ANY further involvement in any decision-making about wind energy for the Town of Lee. If what he hear is true, he already has a direct personal, financial stake in the project and can not be trusted to make an unbiased choice.
WELCOME TO WISE CHOICES FOR LEE — AN INFORMATIONAL SITE FOR THOSE SEEKING TIMELY, ACCURATE INFORMATION REGARDING PROJECTS IMPACTING OUR TOWN.
We are residents of Lee who believe Lee is a wonderful place to live, work, and raise our families. We would like to to maintain the quality of life and peaceful enjoyment that makes Lee special. Please join us in this important effort.
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This in from Shelburne Falls:
Wind turbines increase your property value? What?
Ontario: Gail and Ed Kenny have just lost their appeal and, it seems, the review panel lost their minds.
Gail and Ed will be special guests on the Wind Wise Radio program this Sunday from 7 – 8pm. Their story boggles the mind. The cowards on the review board buckled to pressure and hid behind the fact that NO ONE has sold a home where they live since the turbines have gone in. Gee, I wonder why? The value of their home is probably ZERO.
Reprinted from: The Star (emphasis added)
Ontario’s assessment review board rejects a Wolfe Island couple’s argument that nearby wind turbines significantly decreased their home’s value. The appeal by Ed and Gail Kenney had been closely watched by rural Ontario residents. (March 7, 2011)
RICHARD LAUTENS/TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO
A Wolfe Island couple’s argument that nearby wind turbines significantly decreased their home’s value has been rejected by Ontario’s assessment review board.
The appeal by Ed and Gail Kenney was being closely watched in rural Ontario, where turbine developments have provoked both support and opposition in local communities.
But the board said the Kenneys had failed to prove that the turbines scattered around their waterfront home have reduced its value.
“We’re incredibly disappointed,” Ed Kenney said in an interview.
“We’re not dissuaded,” he said. “We have concerns that our rights to fair and unbiased representation in the face of a province completely driven by the current agenda have been trampled.”
MPAC, the Municipal Property Assessment Corp., assessed the property near Kingston, Ont., at $357,000 in 2009.
That was up from the earlier level of $200,000, which had been set before a major wind power development came to Wolfe Island.
The Kenneys, both in their 70s, have been fighting the assessment ever since.
There are three turbines within a kilometre of their home, and 27 within three kilometres. Wolfe Island has 86 turbines in all, concentrated on the west end of the island, where they catch the winds sweeping the length of Lake Ontario.
The Kenneys say noise from the turbines forces them to keep their windows closed, even in summer.
They say the sound ranges from a low swoosh to the noise made by a jet plane flying overhead — but one that never passes.
But MPAC told the review board that proximity to wind turbines is not built into the model the corporation uses to assess properties.
While the Kenneys — who represented themselves at the hearings — said both their health and property values were affected by the turbines and their noise, the review board rejected their pleas.
“The board finds there is no evidence before this panel of the board to show the effect, if any, that these concerns have had on the current value of the Kenneys’ property.”
The sides had informal talks about a possible settlement during the hearings, Ed Kenney said, but MPAC had insisted that any settlement agreement should have no mention of wind turbines. In the end, no agreement was reached and the case was decided by a two-member review board panel.
The Kenneys are considering whether to appeal the decision, which he says contains factual errors. For example, he said, it refers to his 0.72-acre property as a “farm.” It also says the property has a barn and a detached garage. Kenney says he has neither. The case would go to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
John Andrew, real estate professor at Queen’s University’s School of Business, said the decision by the review board isn’t surprising.
Putting a value on external factors like wind turbines, a nearby airport, or concentrations of student housing can be tricky, he said in an interview.
“People could run to MPAC and say: ‘Hey, I’ve got a whole bunch of student houses on my street and they’re partying ’til one in the morning and my property value should reflect that,’ ” Andrew said.
The marketplace does actually price those factors in for properties where there are lots of sales, he said.
But that’s not necessarily the case with wind turbines.
“When you’re talking about a rural community with very few transactions, there’s no mechanism for the market to price that properly,” Andrew said. “It would have been a slippery slope. It would have opened the floodgates for a whole bunch of appeals.”