The impacts of Eversource’s transmission lines, if the project goes forward as proposed, are many. There’s the environmental impact of clear cutting 82 feet through neighborhoods and conservation lands. There’s the visual pollution of 100 foot tall steel towers, strung with high voltage transmission lines. There are health worries and concerns for our drinking water based on Eversource’s planned use of herbicides to control vegetation on the right of way (RoW). And there’s a sense of outrage that a utility company can impose a project on our town with no deference to our history and tradition of Town Meeting when citizens have a say in all important matters affecting the community – there’s no Town Meeting vote on this project and no vote to uphold local by-laws.
All these things have a knock on effect for anyone who owns a home in Sudbury. Whose homes will be affected? The short answer is, everyone’s. This is because the project will fundamentally change the look and feel of our picturesque town, known for its colonial atmosphere, preservation ethic, and exceptional quality of life.
No map can adequately show what the impact will be, but it’s a good place to start. (You can access an interactive version of this map through the Mass GIS Mapping Tool).
It’s immediately obvious how the proposed transmission lines cut right through the heart of Sudbury’s business district, neighborhoods, and into our conservation land. Residents, visitors, and prospective buyers will be greeted by these towers. If you ever drive on Dutton, Peakham, Horsepond, Union, or Station Road, or Route 20 for that matter, you will cross under these lines.
Eversource will tell you that they have “no evidence of systematic effects on residential real estate values.” We beg to differ. Seriously, if you were looking at two equally lovely homes and one had a view of a transmission line, and one didn’t, which one would you choose?
Here’s a breakdown of the number of households in proximity to the proposed transmission lines, based on distance from the existing MBTA right of way (RoW). There are only a total of roughly 6,000 households in Sudbury; 1,885 are within 3,000 feet of the right of way.
So what does that mean? It means the loss of a whole lot in terms of household value. The projected total loss in home values aggregates to somewhere between $19.7 and $63.5 million dollars (details on the research can be found here). And that too will have its ripple effect in the impact on the tax base, town budgets and the Town of Sudbury’s ability to maintain current levels of services.
In the real estate market, our boots on the ground, Sudbury’s realtors, are seeing the effects already:
Relocation buyers submit a standard form to realtors that includes a check box indicating whether the home is in proximity to high voltage lines. Check the box ‘yes’, and the home is not eligible for the relocation buyer.
Any buyer intending to use an FHA or VA loan can’t even look at a house along the right of way. Their loan won’t be approved if the house is in the tower fall zone.
Buyers are just not willing to take the risk. The sellers that are trying to sell along the RoW, or even the ones that are affected by the sight lines, continue to lower their prices or have taken their homes off the market.
For each abutter that has an easement from Eversource, they will get a standard 15% (current town rate) tax reduction on their land value, hence reducing the amount of taxes they will owe to the Town…the tax implications could be substantial for every home owner in making up the shortfall.
And markets certainly hate uncertainty:
Some people aren’t even putting their house on the market because they want to see what happens.
Only we can protect ourselves from Eversource. It will take the whole community to fight this. Be energized by the prospect that your friends and neighbors are already involved. If we do nothing, this project will happen, but if we act now, we can change its trajectory. Tell a friend, a neighbor, a random stranger standing in line at Sudbury Farms, what you know about the project: it affects us all.
Photos and graphics: Map of Sudbury – http://maps.massgis.state.ma.us/ with annotations; property value impact graphics – Protect Sudbury Research Team; Pond – Stuart Beeby; Lady Slipper – Alexander Gough; Martha Mary Chapel – Trip Advisor; Transmission Line – Renata Aylward.