Pittston Township, my hometown and a booming suburb of Scranton, PA, recently approved a developer's plans to construct a new 18-store strip mall, anchored by a Wal-Mart Supercenter, adjacent to our housing development. The location is ideal for commercial development, visible to more than 100,000 vehicles daily from I-81, I-476, and Highway 315. Our home was appraised back in 2000 at approximately $145,000. Due to the steady increase in overall real estate prices in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA since 2000, along with several major home renovations, that number has since been pushed to around $200,000.
This new strip mall will be located on a hilltop directly adjacent to our property lines. Does anyone know what a new Wal-Mart next-door will do to residential property values? We were assured by the developer that Wal-Marts increase residential property values, due to their overall attractiveness, but I remain skeptical that such a dramatic increase in traffic, noise, and overhead lighting will do anything but harm us.
I have a few questions. First, if we have official appraisals from several different real estate appraisers that currently value our home at $200,000, would we have any legal recourse against the developer if we can show that our property was devalued significantly several years later on account of the new strip mall? I was always skeptical that this project could bring any benefit to a fringe suburb just outside of a struggling downtown, but all three of our local elected officials are high school dropouts and aren't skilled enough in critical thinking to weighing the "cons" of increased congestion, poorer air quality, water runoff concerns, a negative downtown impact, etc. vs. the huge surge in tax revenues. As such, they, along with many of my own neighbors, took the "bait" about "higher housing values" hook, line, and sinker. If our property is devalued because of this, what legal recourse do we have to recoup our lost investment. We were here long before the growing suburb decided it needed another mall; Why should we suffer economically because of it?