Friday, May 17, 2013

Paradise Lost

Invaded. Violated. Assaulted. Under attack. Spoiled. Ruined.

We have a new neighbor. He bought the thirty acres next to us, which apparently includes a large strip of what I thought was ours. He hasn't  even built on it yet, and already he has completely changed the west side of our property, mowed down all the milkweed, and poisoned the pond. He intends to cut down a whole swath of the woods to put in a firing range. Yes, a firing range. To practice competitive shooting. A lot. He also says he is "a big hunter" -  meaning he likes to kill pretty much anything that moves.

Worst of all, he has robbed me of my sense of sanctuary. This was my haven from the world. Coming home from work, as soon as I reached the driveway all the tension drained away. I made a ritual of turning off the yammering voices on the radio, smiled to myself, and sped up to reach the house sooner. Glimpses of the windows glowing through the trees were like a beacon in the storm. My safe hiding place in the woods, where cares could not follow.

It was so private back in here that I felt perfectly comfortable sipping coffee on the deck in my jammies, or lying down on it at night to watch the stars move across the sky. We needed no curtains on our windows. The only other humans we saw were the farm crew who came a few times a year to tend the field next door.

Now there is this guy, or people doing work for him, popping up right in my yard. Or what used to be "my" yard. Entire sections have been mowed that I didn't want mowed, some of which I am almost sure are ours.

Strangers come and go at the edge of the pond, about a third of which is apparently on his side of the line. An exterminator who treated the neighbor's barn for powder post beetles rinsed out his equipment in the water. I haven't seen a frog since.

I haven't written about my fears and anxieties over this because I was hoping they would be unfounded. I was hoping whoever bought there would build down by the road, like everyone else, and continue to rent out the field, and have no interest in our side of the tree line. But the new guy plans to build right next to us. Once that happens, it will be just like living in the suburbs again.

Neither side has had a formal survey done because it costs thousands and only marks the corners of the properties, which are about a quarter mile apart. As you can't see one corner from the other, and the line between them would run through the woods and the pond, getting it right would be guesswork. Still, we may have to try, as the fellow seems to be claiming turf on our side of the tree line that I believe to be well into our yard.

The guy has been friendly enough, but there's just something about him that feels off. The smile doesn't reach the eyes; there is an appraising, calculating quality behind his gaze during conversation. There is the aggressive marking of territory with all the unnecessary mowing and the disregard for wild life.

Things have been quite amicable up until now, and the last thing I need is to make him an enemy. I smile and offer cookies when he stops by. And maybe we can persuade him that he doesn't need to mow on our side.

I'm trying so hard not to give in to despair. We'll see.


(This is the new neighbor's barn. Our house is on the other side of that tree line to the right, almost even with the barn. He plans to build a house next to that barn, which will give him a nice view of our house, deck, back yard, pool ... in other words, privacy is a thing of the past.)


Karen said...

Oh gosh, I'm sorry. I know I would be feeling violated as well. My brother lives in the mountains in British Columbia smack dab in the middle of nowhere...until the government decided to make some dollars by selling off crown land on either side of his. He was fortunate enough to have enough money to buy 60 acres on each side.

Rambling Woods said...

Oh no...this brought tears to my eyes as I know how much you love this.... This makes me sad and angry... Omg... A shooting range? Is that legal? Oh ... Sometimes I just hate people.... Hugs to you... Here if you want.....

MyMaracas said...

Karen, we considered buying the land ourselves, but with me retired and my husband wanting to, it just made no sense financially. How I wish we had, though.

MyMaracas said...

Michelle, thanks for your understanding. I'm sorry it upset you...I try not to post negative news, but sometimes I just need a little tea and sympathy. Yanno?

Rambling Woods said...

Don't be sorry... I am with you... I even told my husband about it.... Hugs

Linda Myers said...

So sorry. I guess land use restrictions aren't so strict in rural areas. I'm on the planning commission in my small town, and such a use would never be allowed.

Derek Yarnell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Derek Yarnell said...

A very awkward situation. I do not envy you but I suspect there is a middle ground that allows you to politely and firmly discuss these issues with this fellow over your home baked cookies. Do not let things go too far without expressing yourself, lest you be taken advantage of. I am sure that you can manage it in a non confrontational way.

Since neither of you have a survey perhaps you could suggest you split the costs so that everyone has the correct information (before anything new gets built)?

MyMaracas said...

Linda, out in the country it's pretty much "anything goes".

Derek, you are a voice of reason. And you're right - we do need to get this sorted ASAP. Thanks for your input!