Multi-generational Family Property and Former Farm Has Long Endured Power-Line Impacts

i Jun 5th Comments Off by

Denise Byrnes, Town of Pleasant Valley, Dutchess County

Ms. Byrnes lives on a parcel of land her father, 91-year-old Robert Schaefer, provided from the farm he inherited and ran for many years in Pleasant Valley. It was a pleasant place but made distinctly less so by the presence of huge power lines that now hold the prospect of being expanded and enlarged. Ms. Byrnes said the power lines have cost her family, particularly her father, for decades. In the 1960s Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. ran a major power line down the middle of the family farm. Not only did the towers significantly detract from the property’s scenic beauty, but they also created two tax parcels that forced the family to pay more in taxes. For years helicopters sprayed defoliant along the power lines, a practice today done on the ground but still it causes Ms. Byrnes’ family concerns because of nearby wetlands that flow into the Fall Kill Creek. Helicopters also regularly fly low over tree tops to inspect the power lines, and this causes the Byrnes home to rattle. When the power company permitted a fiber optic line to be put along the right-of-way, it meant Ms. Byrnes endured several months of heavy equipment. When clay was brought in and pumped into the ground to surround the buried fiber optic line, it leached into a stream and pond on the family property, creating algae and other problems with these water resources. Ms. Byrnes said that when the power lines were originally routed through her family’s land, they really had no say in the matter. For five decades the power lines have been a nuisance and have impacted their property values. She says her family has owned the property since 1910 and that her father, who remains a passionate steward of the land, is concerned about expanded power lines and the environmental and scenic damage they would cause to the family’s beloved lands.