DIXON – An appraiser said Tuesday that he couldn’t find any evidence that a proposed wind farm in southwestern Lee County would hurt nearby property values long term.
Michael Crowley, a Bureau County appraiser, has been hired by Ireland-based Mainstream Renewable Power to study the effects of its planned turbines on nearby home values.
During his testimony, Crowley said negative publicity during the early stages of the development of wind farms can have a short-term adverse effect on property values. That stigma disappears after people learn about turbines, he said.
Ultimately, he said, the proposed wind farm wouldn’t change the character of southwestern Lee County, which he described as almost entirely agricultural.
He spoke before the Lee County Zoning Board of Appeals, which is considering Mainstream’s application for dozens of turbines in Hamilton and East Grove townships.
For most of the 2 1/2-hour meeting, Crowley was cross-examined by Rockford attorney Rick Porter, who is representing Hamilton Township and a number of private landowners fighting the wind farm.
Crowley conceded he didn’t know the proposed height or width of the turbines.
He also said he only found out Tuesday that Mainstream was planning 46 turbines, not 58, as was previously believed.
Porter asked if the height or the layout of the wind farm would change Crowley’s opinion that the turbines wouldn’t affect property values.
“Not necessarily,” Crowley replied.
Porter asked whether Crowley agreed that a higher density of turbines would affect values. Crowley said he did not.
He said he based his opinion on interviews with appraisers and tax assessors.
Porter questioned why Crowley didn’t conduct other analyses such as looking at sales data. Porter noted a leading authority in the appraisal field advised that appraisers never use only interviews with appraisers and assessors for their studies.
Crowley said he was aware of that authority, but others disagree. He said the interviews were sufficient because appraisers and assessors are experts in their fields.
Mainstream’s wind farm is also planned for Bureau and Whiteside counties.
Crowley testified that he is being paid $12,000 by Mainstream for his studies and testimony for the turbines in the three counties.
The zoning board hearing resumes Tuesday.
Whiteside County completed its hearings for the Mainstream application last month. The board will start discussing the application at its Aug. 2 meeting.
The Lee County Zoning Board of Appeals will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday on the third floor of the Old Lee County Courthouse, 112 E. Second St. in Dixon. The meeting is expected to last 2 1/2 hours.
The board will resume its public hearing for Mainstream Renewable Power’s application for turbines in the southwestern area of the county.
For an agenda for this meeting, minutes from past meetings, or more information, go to www.leecountyil.com or call 815-288-5676.