Real estate expert testifies at Packer wind farm hearing
Broad Mountain Power will have its next meeting before the Packer Township Zoning Hearing Board at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Weatherly Area Middle School cafeteria. Experts will speak on animal wildlife and the balloon flight test.
At the meeting last week, John J. Coyle III, MAI, CRE, president of Coyle, Lynch & Company of Media, was back to defend his report and its premise that wind turbines make “no measurable difference” to a local real estate market.
Coyle had first testified before the zoning board in late June.
Attorney Bruce Anders, who represents more than 100 opponents to the wind farm, methodically poked holes in Coyle’s report. He started by listing “detracting factors” about being a neighbor to these structures, from noise, shadow flicker, effects on sleep, effects on TV reception, the lights the FAA requires, impact on birds and bats, and the overall aesthetics of the structures. He then went after Coyle on methods used to get to his conclusion.
Coyle’s report compares the Packer Township area of Carbon County to two other counties which he deems similar in population density and circumstance, Wyoming County, New York, near Orangeville, and Wyoming County Pennsylvania near Mehoopany. He reviewed literature available from both areas about real estate activity, found a set of properties with sales prior to the wind turbines being erected in those places and then afterward to create “matched pairs,” and spoke with local real estate professionals there.
Anders quoted an article from Forbes Magazine which said 200,000 turbines would be needed to reach a goal of generating 20% of this nation’s electricity from the current 6% and nearly 60,000 turbines. The Forbes article was not supportive of wind as an answer to the country’s future electricity needs, due to the farms’ need for large swaths of land and their aesthetics.
Anders’ statement that it’s “impossible to believe that wind turbines add to a property’s value” got a rumble of agreement from the audience.
Coyle used a busy street analogy — some people want to locate on a busy street for its convenience, in spite of the noise and traffic, while others don’t. He later used a Sheetz example, saying that people want the convenience of the Sheetz nearby, just not beside their backyard.
Some real estate buyers will see the property, home and location and then buy, while some others will see the windmills and choose to look elsewhere.
Anders then listed articles that purport that property values are reduced, from 12 to 40% (in one article, 55%).
Anders referred to Mehoopany where Marcellus Shale gas is harvested, which would affect the value of properties. Anders stated there was a “big boom” in prices due to the gas.
However, Anders said the turbines are either 398 or 464 feet in Mehoopany, and 427 feet in Orangeville, compared with up to 656 feet planned for here.
He said in Wyoming County, New York, 60 property owners are currently suing the developer of the wind turbines project there for “diminution of property values.”
Anders asked if Broad Mountain Power might provide a property value guarantee. This caused an objection from Broad Mountain attorneys, which zoning board solicitor Greg Mousseau sustained.
Craig Tiano of Lake Hauto questioned Coyle’s report on how it deals with the Lake Hauto resort community, or doesn’t deal with it. Tiano also added that there are sections of Schuylkill County affected, too. Coyle answered that he concentrated on Packer Township.
Coyle concluded that there is “no measurable difference in real estate values” with the turbines present.
Zoning board member Myron Tarapchak complained about how Broad Mountain communicated about the balloon display on the day of the event. The answer was that the display was dependent on weather conditions, and that an expert will be presented in an upcoming hearing.