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Ontario assessment board cuts house value in half due to nearby wind farm transformer noise

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In what could be a precedent-setting move, the Ontario Assessment Review Board (ARB) has slashed the taxable value of a house because of noise from a transformer station across the street.  The transformer, which site 360 meters (about 1200 feet) from Paul Thompson’s home, produces a constant hum of about 40dB in Thompson’s home.  In 2008, the Municipal Property Assessment Corp. assessed the 1,320-square-foot house at $255,000; Thompson felt that assessment may be fair if not for the noise from the recently-installed substation, and appealed.  According to an article in the Home section of the Toronto Star, Thompson introduced evidence at the hearing showing that the transformer station noise was audible within the house with the windows closed. He described the noise as a “nightmare” and a constant nuisance that not only affects his day-to-day activity, but also impacts the sales value and marketability of his property. In reaching its decision to cut his assessment in half, board member Marques wrote, “The Board finds that the constant hum alleged by Mr. Thompson does exist and significantly reduces the current value of the subject property. The best evidence is the audio portion of the CD (Exhibit No. 1) and the testimony of both parties. “Having heard this nuisance, apparently sanctioned by the Municipality, the Board accepts Mr. Thompson’s testimony that the stigma of noise contamination has a negative impact on the value and marketability of the property, and that after learning of the hum, prospective purchasers will quickly lose interest in purchasing the property. The Board is satisfied that a very substantial reduction is warranted.”

It is especially interesting that the ARB felt that Thompson’s home value was so dramatically affected by sound of 40dB; many municipalities c0nsider this and higher levels to be acceptable.  Wind turbine noise, while varying widely with wind conditions, can be 45dB or higher at similar distances (1000-1500 feet), and remain above 35dB for up to a mile.  As Bob Aaron, a real estate lawyer and author of this article, notes: “Thompson’s successful appeal of his assessment is only the first of many similar cases that are certain to follow. The result, of course, will be a significant reduction in the tax base of municipalities like Amaranth, which play host to wind turbine farms.”  This hearing took place in September 2008, but only recently came to light.  Bob Aaron has posted the ARB decision on his website.

One Response to “Ontario assessment board cuts house value in half due to nearby wind farm transformer noise”

  1. » Blog Archive » Wind farm noise, health issues continue to grow—and get jumbled—in Ontario Says:

    […] formal noise assessment at the home of the couple in question. While the transformer noise had been in the news previously, when a nearby homeowner received a reduction in his assessed value after complaining, these were […]

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