Does nearby drilling have a negative effect on real estate values? It’s a debate that has raged over the past several years. The drilling industry will say that on average, housing prices are unaffected by drilling. But if drilling is close—very close—there seems little doubt that it can negatively impact a homeowner’s property value. It’s one of the issues that those of us who support drilling must face honestly and openly. And figure out how to address it.
A case in point comes from a home owner in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio (Cuyahoga County).
Susan Fowler’s Georgian colonial has been on the market for two-and-a-half years. The four-bedroom house sits on a wooded lot on a quiet cul-de-sac in Broadview Heights, where home values are among the highest in Cuyahoga County cities. Fowler’s house lists at $250,999 — knocked down from $389,000.
But with several oil and gas wells on land behind her property, she says potential buyers want no part of it. The closest well is 89 feet from her property line.
An oil and gas company cleared woods to drill a well behind the house in 2008. The next year brought two more wells. The family moved out during the drilling of the second well.
While there is much debate over whether oil and gas well drilling poses health risks, Fowler said her family experienced vomiting and headaches during the process.
They moved into an apartment, and a year later they left the area for good.
She was a design engineer at Ford. Her husband was an information technology director at Progressive Insurance. They moved to Portland, Ore.
"It’s just been a brutal financial strain for us," Fowler said in an interview.
"You couldn’t pay me to live in Ohio again," she said. "It was our dream home. Now it’s a lovely home right on top of an industrial site. We feel like refugees from our city and our state."*
MDN has no idea whether or not the Fowlers are anti-fossil fuel nutters. It really makes no difference which way they lean on the issue. They report having negative health affects, and now their property value has plummeted, from nearby gas drilling. That’s a problem and it needs to be addressed.
It certainly seems the newest sets of drilling rules to come down the pike from PA, WV, OH and NY increase the “set-backs” or the distance between drilling operations and sensitive areas like homes, water wells, rivers and streams. And that’s a good thing. So it seems industry, and government, is heading in the right direction. However, more needs to be done for those already negatively impacted.
*Cleveland The Plain Dealer (Jun 11, 2012) – As fracking debate heats up, Broadview Heights already shows strains of oil, gas well drilling