By Paul Schliesmann The Whig-Standard
Ed and Gail Kenney say their Wolfe Island waterfront home and property have become de-valued since the construction of 86 wind turbines. On Day 4 of their Assessment Review Board hearing into the matter Thursday, Ed Kenney asked the panel to also consider the impact of up to 2,000 turbines that could be constructed along the east end of Lake Ontario in the coming decade.
The result, he said, will be “a monstrous industrial park both on the water and on the land.”
Projects have been approved or are being put forward for approval from Prince Edward County to Amherst Island, as well as Upstate New York across Lake Ontario from Wolfe Island.
Kenney said that on most real estate disclosure forms, it would be incumbent upon homeowners to make information about existing and future wind turbine facilities known to anyone who might purchase their home.
“Wolfe Island, I believe, is totally zoned to accept further wind mills, as is Howe Island,” Kenney told the hearing. “That disclosure would be also necessary if you’re selling property.”
The Kenneys, who are representing themselves at the ongoing hearing to have their home assessment lowered, were backed in this opinion by one of their expert witnesses.
Janet Grace, a local realtor and former president of the Kingston Real Estate Association, said Thursday that when retirees go to buy property like the Kenneys’, “quality of life is important.”
Having power-production facilities nearby, she said, may be a negative factor in making their decision.
“When there is a change to the environment of any kind, it must adjust the value of the existing house,” she said. “At this point, we are guessing as to what the effect of planting turbines near that house would be.”
In accepting Grace as an expert witness, assessment hearing chair Susan Mather instructed her not to surmise what the effects of turbines might be on the Kenney property.
She also asked Grace to disclose whether she opposed wind turbines. Grace is active with the Association for the Protection of Amherst Island, a group fighting the placement of a wind turbine farm in that community.
“My business is real estate,” said Grace. “I do have a bias when it comes to wind turbines. I don’t want to see turbines on Amherst Island.”
The Kenneys also presented a letter written by Gene Manion, president of Shore Acres Wolfe Island Ltd.
Unable to attend the hearing because of illness, Manion wrote that he bought property on the island in 2006. In two years, he had sold two of seven lots. Then, in 2008, construction began on the 86 turbines.
“When the windmill construction got underway, the potential buyers backed away from their purchase with the specific reason that they did not want to be on a windmill island,” Manion wrote.
In 2010, Manion recorded no sales of lots, also citing overcrowded ferries as a reason for the decrease in interest.
“With the continuing lack of interest on Wolfe Island by mainland purchasers, we are forced to relieve ourselves of this investment by reducing the price by 50% below normal market value appraisal,” he concluded.
Two more days of hearings have been scheduled for October.
The Kenneys will call two more witnesses at that time, and the lawyer for the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation will have one more witness.
A lawyer for the Township of Frontenac Islands also has standing at the hearing.