Drilling can dig into land value

Marcellus Shale region

Drilling can dig into land value


09:25 AM CDT on Saturday, September 18, 2010

DECATUR — One year to the day after a company set up its drilling rigs on their land in eastern Wise County, Tim and Christine Ruggiero confirmed the depth of their loss.

Originally on the 2010 tax rolls for $257,330, their home and 10-acre horse property are now worth $75,240.

The Wise County Central Appraisal District Appraisal Review Board — five community members with varying expertise in real estate — agreed that the drilling company’s use of the Ruggieros’ land warranted the extraordinary reduction.

“It’s the biggest cut I’ve ever seen,” said Bob Boughton, board chairman, at the conclusion of a nearly two-hour hearing Thursday afternoon.

It took the couple about 30 minutes to present all the significant events — from the day crews moved in without proper agreements to the recent installation of a “thermal oxidizer,” which continuously burns emissions — leading up to their 10-year-old daughter’s health problems.

The couple’s daughter has been having breathing difficulties for several months. After her latest trip to the emergency room, she was diagnosed with asthma, the couple testified. A neighbor’s child also had recently been diagnosed with asthma.

Some board members said they would neither be able to sell the property, nor even consider listing the property, after hearing the couple’s disclosures, including the fact that they had filed a lawsuit against the company for damages.

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