Thursday, May 7, 2015

Asphalt Plants and Property Values
How Much Money Will Westford Lose?

(Presented at the Town of Westford's Zoning Board of Appeals.)[1]
Executive Summary
Westford Residents stand to lose 75.6 Million Dollars in Property Values. Although we cannot definitively know how an asphalt plant will affect Westford, we can make an educated prediction. We can use the values lost from an actual asphalt plant, and calculate a projected affect on Westford. Based on actual loss, Westford residents are likely to lose a combined 75.6 million dollars in homeowner property value, which would be the equivalent of 1.2 million dollars in tax revenue annually for the town.

Documents:
  • ·      Research from Pineola, NC, where property values before the introduction of an asphalt plant were an average of 27% higher than values post-asphalt plant.
  • ·      Excel Spreadsheet of tax assessment home values on streets in Westford that are within a one-mile radius of the asphalt plant. (Available upon request.)


Documented Decrease in Home Value
The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League documented a 27% decrease in property values near an asphalt plant in Pineola, NC. Based on tax-assessor’s documents from between 1995 (before the increase in asphalt production) and 1996 (after the increase), these properties lost 27% value. One property lost 56% of its value due to the plant.

Actual Losses from Asphalt Plant


Homes Affected
The proposed asphalt plant is on 540 Groton Road, Westford MA. We limited the projected loss to only those homes on streets within a mile radius of the proposed plant. We used Westford’s tax assessments for the year 2015. The total value of houses to be affected is $280,052,454.
Russells Way, Sweet Wood, Betty Lane, Forrest Rd, Chandler Rd, Caldwell Drive, Morrison Lane, Ledge Road, Christy Lane, Quarry Hill Road, Danley Drive, Tyler Road, Vineyard Road, Curren Drive, Perham Circle, Rolling Meadow Lane, Links Road, Doris Road, Blacksmith Drive, Fernwood Drive, Emerson Road, Byrne Avenue Gassett Road, Lake Shore Drive North, Pine Tree Trail, Pollyanna Lane, Lawson Road, Moore Avenue, Briarwood Drive, and Oak Hill Road numbers 46-124.

Conclusion
Westford’s property values on roads within a mile of the proposed asphalt plant total $280,052,454. If those homes lose 27% of their value, these Westford homeowners will lose $75,614,162.58 in property value, which would be the equivalent of 1.2 million dollars in tax revenue annually for the town. 75.6 million dollars poses a significant detrimental increase for those homeowners in particular, and losing 1.2 million dollars in tax revenue annually also poses a significant detrimental increase to the town in general.

Addendum
27% may be an underestimate
These calculations only take into account the homes near the asphalt plant. Many more homes will be affected. For example since I live 1.2 miles from the plant, my house does not fall within the one-mile radius, and although I did not include my home in the calculations here, I do intend to move if the plant comes to town, which means there will be additional losses that are not in these calculations. So, keep in mind that the scope of the problem is much larger than these numbers suggest.

Pineola’s 27% home value loss occurred from an increase in the amount of asphalt produced at an existing plant. Pineola already had an asphalt plant. In 1995 Pineola’s plant produced 150 tons/hour. The property values decreased by 27% after the plant increased production to 325 tons/hour. Since Newport Material’s proposed asphalt plant will be able to produce 400 tons/hour, which is significantly more than Pineola’s, a 27% loss could easily be an underestimate.

[1] Presented at the Town of Westford's Zoning Board of Appeals on Wednesday, May 6th. 
http://www.westfordma.gov/pages/government/towndepartments/boardsandcommittees/WestfordMA_zba/index


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