In another day of hearings before Rhode Island Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB), witness Michael Marous said that the yellow signs put up in and around Burrillville do more to hurt property values than the existence of a fracked gas and diesel oil burning power plant.

The EFSB met on Tuesday to continue the cross-examination of expert witnesses on the issue of employment and take up the issue of property values. At issue is Invenergy’s $1 billion fracked gas and diesel oil burning power plant aimed at the pristine forests of Burrillville.

The first witnesses were Ralph Gentile and Marc Vatter, who submitted testimony on behalf of the Rhode Island Building, Construction and Trades Council (RIBCTC). Below is video of their cross-examination:

David Harris is an intervenor in the case before the EFSB. In his testimony Harris is “the owner of the largest tract of private land in the immediate vicinity” of the proposed power plant. Harris owns 68 acres of land at that location and resides there with his family. He has invested almost $1,000,000.00 into acquiring and improving his property since it was purchased in 2004. Harris intends to open an equestrian park on his property. Harris maintains that the construction and operation of the power plant will have “a substantial negative affect on the present and future use and enjoyment of his property, the present and future value of his property, the future income potential of his property, and on the health and safety of his family and guests.”

Yellow signs…

Michael Marous is an Invenergy witness testifying to the effect of the power plant on real estate values in Burrillville. In his testimony Marous said that in the short term, during the construction phase, there may be some negative real estate value effects. In the long term, however, Marous testified that there would be no effect on real estate values.

“Would you agree with me that the perception in the community, an educated community, that is aware of [air pollution impacts from the power plant] might have a negative impact on property values?” asked Burrillville attorney Michael McElroy.

Marous took several seconds to compose his answer, then said “Such as large yellow signs in the neighborhoods? Probably one of the worst things that an area can do to promote property values. Perception is an issue. There’s no question about it.” [38m48s Video 3 below]

“Oh come on,” said a Burrillville resident from the gallery.

It was yet another condescending remark from a representative of Invenergy to the people of Burrillville, who Invenergy would have you believe are complicit in destroying their own property values, by daring to oppose the will of an uninvited billion dollar fracked gas energy company.

Scott Walker suffered the final cross-examination. A witness for Burrillville, Walker’s testimony concerned the advisory opinion of the Burrillville Tax Assessor.

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Even if the proliferation of yellow signs depresses property values, it is a CHOICE that Burrillville resident have made. It is their choice to put up yellow signs, and the residents are all well aware of how they look. This is a far different thing from having a fracked gas pollutant factory shoved down their throats.

It is the job of a paid “expert” hired by Invenergy to do their best to cast Invenergy’s plans in a positive light. I don’t think being a smarmy prick accomplishes that. Invenergy should ask Marous for their money back.