The Daily Telegram ADRIAN, Mich. —
Wind turbine setbacks
To the editor,
(Regarding “Riga planners, residents hear more on ordinance,” Dec. 17)
I read that Mr. Russ Lundberg was invited to speak to the Riga Township Planning Commission in favor of wind energy projects. Since he was presented as a wind industry expert on land use issues, I am concerned by Mr. Lundberg’s quote that it is “too early to tell” if there will be any property value impacts.
First, as a land use expert, he should be acutely aware of the many examples of people describing their unsuccessful attempts to sell their homes at market value, if at all, as well as a growing number of homes abandoned by some wind project neighbors. A glaring example of impact on neighbors includes a recent Canadian project with three dozen turbines, where a dozen homes have reportedly been abandoned as a result of turbines being built too close to homes.
Further, once you put aside the proponent funded value studies, the three most often cited of which were not prepared by licensed appraisers, what remain are the independent studies that consistently find losses of 25 to 40 percent or more. Value losses that can extend as far as two miles (McCann) or three miles (study by Chris Luxemburger), and which represent unbiased examination of the empirical evidence of value loss.
Second of my concerns is that Mr. Lundberg, as a former director of county zoning, is presumably well-versed in the responsibility of local zoning and planning officials: To protect the public health, safety and welfare.
Neither the wind industry nor their trade associations have submitted an epidemiological study of health impacts, choosing instead to disavow the legitimacy of clinical studies undertaken by several doctors experienced in treating and evaluating patients suffering from “wind turbine syndrome.” On this basis, it seems obvious to me that Mr. Lundberg is advising Riga Township to leave the health of residents to chance, rather than require the applicant to document their claims under the appropriate burden of proof.
Finally, given that Mr. Lundberg admits he has no knowledge of property value losses, I also find it disturbing that he failed to recommend a solid Property Value Guarantee (PVG) to protect the neighboring owners from financial ruin. Even the author of the U.S. DOE 2009 study on property values now recommends use of PVGs.
The means to protect people’s health, safety, welfare as well as the peaceful use and enjoyment and value of their properties is obvious: Set back the turbines at least two miles from innocent bystander homes. Or, buy them out so the project does not erase whatever equity homeowners currently have.
Setbacks such as these are used elsewhere, so industry claims of a 1,000-foot “standard” are simply another way to maximize profits, albeit at the expense of neighboring property owners.
Incidentally, I am not being paid for my comments. My letter is intended to provide information for those who also “don’t know,” or will not know until it is too late to decide setbacks. Please feel free to contact me. I would be happy to try to answer any questions you may have.
Michael S. McCann, state certified general real estate appraiser