Property rights doesn’t mean landowners can do whatever they please with land

Posted 2 January 2017 at 9:37 am


In his recent brief letter to the editor dealing with wind turbines and private property rights, a Barre resident appears to speak up for both. He indicates that property owners should be able to do with their land what they wish in order to benefit themselves.

Within reason, that is certainly true. It is when their choices begin to have serious negative impacts on others that limits may be in order. The author suggested the potential for increasing the tax base that might result from wind turbines in Barre.

Property values and tax bases can also suffer declines as a result of a variety of choices made by those who live around us. A realtor in Naples described to me a situation in which a purchase offer on a cabin in Cohocton was withdrawn after Cohocton’s wind mining operation became public information. What might have sold for $90,000 ended up going for just under $70,000.

Communities have a right to decide what they want and what they do not want. I guess that is what code enforcement is about. My neighbor has a permit to mine dirt. The proposed stone quarry in Shelby is a prime example of the potential community interest in allowing/not allowing landowners to do whatever they want with their land. Restrictions on burning brush might be another. Zoning is certainly related to our freedom to do whatever we please with our properties.

For that matter, unless those parts of Barre envisioned for wind turbines are zoned “industrial”, it is hard for me to understand how they can clear wooded areas in order to make room for industrial wind turbines.  Perhaps that is why some prefer to call collections of industrial turbines “wind farms”. To me it would seem most accurate to describe them as mining operations.

Congressman Chris Collins has evidently introduced a bill that would ban 600-foot high wind turbines within forty miles of a military installation. How does that square with the notion that the folks who live within forty miles of the Niagara Falls Base can do anything they want with their land?

In the real world, we are under some obligation to consider how our actions affect others.

Sincerely yours,

Gary Kent