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My Turn: Northern Pass will hurt property values

About 20 years ago, when my wife and I moved from the crowded confines of southern New England to the peace and spaciousness of northern New Hampshire, we looked at a beautiful log home for sale overlooking the Connecticut River.

The house had three bedrooms, a library, a spacious country kitchen, several imported enameled wood stoves, FHW oil heat, finished basement offices and was of superb modern construction. It sat on a bluff of 3 acres with a magnificent view up the river valley from the living room picture window. It was a $300,000 home in that real estate market at that time, except . . .

A transmission line ran through the backyard, about 100 yards from the house.

When we looked at the property, it was priced at $119,000. It sold about a year later for $97,000.

The primary concern in the neighborhood relative to that property was electromagnetic fields.

The previous owner, who had had the house built, died of cancer. There were stories, which I considered sensational fiction, of cancerous cows on a neighboring dairy farm.

There is a perception abroad in the land that living in the vicinity of transmission lines emitting EMFs is hazardous to one’s health in a variety of ways. It does not matter one whit whether the concerns with EMFs are based on fact and science or folk myth and superstition. The perception of the market sets the value.

Similarly, in an area where a large part of the attraction is the beauty of the surroundings, that unblemished beauty constitutes real value attached to property.

In assessments, a view increases the value of the property by 50 percent.

Transmission lines and towers do not qualify as a view. Rather the opposite, they blight the view that is there. Construction of transmission lines will result in an epidemic of appeals to lower assessments.

Property value is an issue that Northern Pass has apparently tried to ignore or sweep under the rug.

Its HVDC transmission line is going to trash real property values everywhere within sight of the line. This will be as true in the populous south as it is in the cherished north. What they are proposing will steal value just as if they backed up a truck and cleaned out the house.

Northern Pass makes fairly extravagant claims regarding the amount of property tax it will pay on its transmission lines and structures. It is silent regarding the loss of property tax revenue that will result from all of those view-assessed properties that will have their assessments reduced.

Northern Pass is equally silent regarding the common practice of utilities to depreciate their structures and seek reduced assessments and tax payments over time.

Deceitful is the word that leaps to mind.

(Jan Edick is former IT employee of the Commonwealth Energy System, now a component of Northeast Utilities.)

Legacy Comments9

I have not commented on the Northern Pass because I do not know enough about it. ( I know I am strange that way not like some people who know everything about everything.) But I just wonder what people thought of all the telephone poles and electric wires strung over every part of this country starting in the beginning of the last century. Wonder if there was as much complaint about the landscape being spoiled or were people just too happy to have electricity and phones?

Here are two contributors to the Housing Bubble. Jimmy Carter 1977 Community Reinvestment Act. Clinton's National Homeowners Strategy.

As for northern pass this is a tired old argument that barely causes a yawn to register on me. Cell towers kill property values, halfway houses kill property values, name something that doesn't. The first thing that comes to mind would be living in the late 18th century. Oh wait, that was when NH was almost deforested and the White Mountains nearly a barren landscape. Progress does not come at no cost. Whether NP is good or bad is irrelevant to me personally, I am just sick of the whole my property values excuse.

The Obama Economy has killed housing values more than anything possible ..... a power line wont make a difference now - the monopoly money Obama has pumped into the economy has killed the housing market for a long time to come

Whoa tonto, what killed property and housing values? 20 plus years of excess and greed killed the housing market. How soon some forget. Better re-read your newspapers, the housing market nationwide is experiencing some of it's best times in years. Two strikes - your out on this one.

BIG govt led by Barney Frank caused the downturn - the downturn started when democrats captured congress in 2006

A new crackpot theory! It seems conservatives can't keep their stories straight. The official wingnut narrative says the housing bubble and inevitable crash is traceable to policies set under Bill Clinton. Which is it, sail, do you want to change your mind and get on the bandwagon; or are you sticking with your story? I'm sure it really doesn't matter to you - it's Democrats to blame in either case.

Don't people ever get tired of posting this nonsense? The "Obama Economy" can't possibly be to blame for events that occurred before his inauguration. I'd really like a reply from sail to two specific question2: 1)How many semesters of economics have you studied (and passed), and 2) What other qualifications do you possess to make you an expert on monetary policy, e.g. have you read and digested Milton Friedman's Monetary History of the United States, Keynes' Treatise on Money or his General Theory?

There is no way that it should have taken 6 years to recover this economy. It has turned from private sector to public sector driven as Obama has increased the federal employee ranks exponentially. Those jobs produce virtually no GDP and our prosperity can not depend on Keynesian theory. I might ask you, however, the same two questions that you asked of Sail. One thing about economists, no two seem to agree much. They all have their theories and beliefs.

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