A peat moss processing plant under construction near Oakbank will depress the value of rural residential properties in the vicinity, according to an appraiser’s report.
Allan Akins and Margaret Marion-Akins, who live near the Berger plant, commissioned the 20-page market analysis report, completed in January by Winnipeg appraiser Deana Halladay.
"The closer to the Berger plant, the greater the negative impact will be on the (property) values," the report, viewed last week by The Carillon, concludes.
According to Halladay, properties located less than one kilometre from the plant will decline in value by 10 to 20 percent. In an interview, Akins said that includes his residence, located kitty-corner from the facility.
Properties located one to 1.5-km from the plant can expect to lose five to 10 percent of their value, the report says. Properties located more than 1.5 kilometres away from the plant will lose five percent or less of their value.
The report states it is a document intended to "assist the clients in seeking an injunction and court order upon the RM of Springfield to stop further development of the Berger Peat Moss Mixing Plant."
In an interview, Akins said he is still mulling his legal options.
Preparing the report involved three daytime visits and one night-time visit to the 160-acre facility site, located seven kilometres west of Oakbank at the corner of Lorne Hill Road and Oakwood Road.
"Properties in the immediate area range from small hobby farms to full scale
agricultural farming operations," Halladay wrote.
"The area has consistently been popular with strong resale demand. The nature of the area has a high sand content in the soil and is known to be desirable for hobby farms with horses."
Halladay also researched two other Manitoba peat moss sites and examined how infrastructure projects in Winnipeg impacted nearby residential property values.
The report did not probe the legality of the municipal zoning and permitting processes that allowed the plant to be constructed on agricultural land, rather than industrial or commercial land. The province granted the project an environmental licence last August.
The report argues that surrounding properties will be devalued by the noise, light, and heavy truck traffic that the 24-hour plant will produce in an area close to Birds Hill Park and two golf courses that has "traditionally had minimal traffic other than local residents."
"Potential purchasers will take this into consideration when making and (sic) offer and consider alternative rural properties without any noise, traffic or light pollution," Halladay wrote.
"It’s got so many ways to pollute our neighbourhood," Akins said.
Berger, a Quebec-based company, intends to use the plant to process and package peat moss extracted in Hadashville and Deer Lake. Work at the site, a former equestrian park and boarding facility, began last spring, and includes both renovations and new construction.
RM of Springfield council has previously touted the 50 new jobs that the plant will bring. Berger expects the plant to gradually ramp up operations over four years, reaching peak capacity in 2025.
Akins, who last year circulated a petition that garnered 270 signatures from people opposed to the plant, said he and other area residents see those 50 jobs in a different light.
"Fifty cars a day going zoom, zoom, zoom."
With hauling trucks also rumbling by, Akins said he worries children will no longer feel safe cycling to a neighbour’s house to play.
"This is throwing us under the bus, to bring a major project into the community," he said. "Our quality of life is being screwed in a big way."
-with files from Josh Greschner