Thursday, August 08, 2013
A family’s home is its castle, and never more so than to a family who builds their home with their own hands. That is the case with Christina M. and Jeffrey W. Danos, who have been building a custom home on Pivot Rock Road for more than three years.
The home design includes many high-end features such as tongue-and-groove vaulted pine ceilings, custom cabinetry, a marble tile shower, granite countertops, vessel sinks, a standing-seam metal roof, fiber-cement siding, and many hand-built craftsman built-ins.
“We hope to complete it within the next six months,” said Jeffrey Danos, who is a self-employed web designer, Internet marketer, area and event promoter, digital artist, local historian, and musician. “Aside from the metal roofing, every nail, screw, bag of concrete, stick of lumber, and gallon of stain was applied with our own two hands. We have invested our entire retirement savings in this property, and we have spent the last three years building our dream home on it. This is a true one-of-a-kind, custom owner-built home. We hope to spend the rest of our lives in it.”
With so much invested in their dream home, it came as a big shock when the couple were notified in late April that their property is on route 91 (blue route), one of six routes being considered by American Electric Power (AEP) subsidiary Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO) for a 345 kiloVolt (kV) transmission line.
Danos said there is no remedy for the adverse effect the project would have, and no amount of money could make up for the personal investment they have put in their home.
“If you have ever built a house from the ground up with your own two hands, you would understand,” he said.
This would add to a complex web of already existing electric power infrastructure in their neighborhood.
“We already have two 30-foot-wide Carroll Electric power line easements cutting through our property, as well as SWEPCO’s existing north-south high voltage 161 kV lines that traverse our neighbor’s land just to the east,” Danos said in testimony filed with the Arkansas Public Service Commission (APSC) opposing the line. “My neighbor to the north also has a set of lines running less than twenty feet from his doorstep. These lines are smaller than the proposed 345 kV lines, but they limit use of the land just the same. In a nutshell, the homes on Pivot Rock Road are already riddled with a chaotic web of crisscrossing electrical lines from different providers, and now SWEPCO wants to add another. How much more of our land do we have to lose to electrical utilities? When is enough enough?”
Danos isn’t sure exactly where the line would cross the couple’s land, but believes it would have to be between the 200 feet of space left between their home and the existing Carroll Electric easements to the north. If AEP/SWEPCO were to place the line in the middle, it would remove nearly all of their large shade trees, and they would have only about 50 feet of relatively flat and buildable space out of their entire 4.625 acres.
“We had hoped to allow our two children to build small homes in this area when they were older,” Danos said. “Obviously, that will not happen if this transmission line is built on our land.”
He also has more immediate concerns about how the line would impact their home, health, and enjoyment of the property. Their children like to fly kites, climb tall trees, play with radio-controlled airplanes and helicopters, throw balls and Frisbees, and play with balloons. All of these activities would have to become off limits if there were high voltage power lines nearby, for obvious safety reasons.
Danos said while some studies state there is no conclusive evidence that living near high voltage transmission lines is a health risk, there is also no conclusive evidence that living near these lines is safe.
“As a responsible parent, I am not going to submit my children as guinea pigs to persistent electromagnetic frequencies (EMF) or extremely low frequency (ELF) exposure,” he said. “No child should be knowingly exposed to sources of radiation that could increase their chances of developing childhood leukemia.”
He is also concerned that the herbicides AEP/SWEPCO would use to maintain the right-of-way could end up in their drinking water and pond, due to accidental overspray, wind drift, and the very porous karst geology of this region.
“Although SWEPCO provided a list of all EPA-registered chemicals they use, they did not provide any data as to whether the EPA approved the particular combination or mixes of chemicals they might use,” Danos said. “Instead, they provided a breakdown of the chemicals used in their mixes, with EPA info for each individual chemical. This is not the same as what I requested, and my concern stems from the fact that different combinations of chemicals can have different effects than when they are applied individually.”
Danos also has great concerns about how the project would impact his livelihood. As the owner and operator of several websites that promote the Ozark region of Arkansas, any unsightly utility project that has a negative impact on the tourism of the area would make his job as an area promoter that much more difficult.
“I also manage websites and online marketing for several tourism-based businesses in the area, including lodging establishments and real estate professionals,” Danos said. “As they will also be adversely impacted by any utility developments that threaten tourism, their ability to retain me as an Internet marketing expert will also be affected. I am also the organizer of several non-profit events in Eureka Springs which rely heavily on tourist participation. Again, any drop in tourism due to the proposed transmission line will limit my ability to successfully promote these events and as a result, the non-profit beneficiaries of our events (such as the Flint Street Food Bank) will also suffer.”
He is also concerned that as homes along the proposed transmission line are devalued due to their proximity to these power lines, local property tax collections would decrease, leading to less funding for schools and the town’s emergency services.
Route 91 through the Danos’ property has now been downgraded in priority by AEP/SWEPCO, and is one of the three least favored routes. But Danos said other routes have similar impacts on local residents and he opposes all routes.
“I believe that all the proposed routes would have unreasonable impacts on the environment and people of the Ozarks, particularly since the need does not appear to exist for Carroll County, where the Kings River station has been proposed,” he said. “Carroll County has not seen enough growth or development to warrant such a large transmission line.”
Comments:Be the first to comment!
Login to comment!