walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

just a casual conversation

I promise: no links to news coverage of creepy and disturbing religious stuff.

The other day, I was standing in the driveway when a couple women and their dogs came by. We had a little conversation, which started the way a lot of these conversations do: do you know if whoever owns that land is going to build on it? That's my land and it is not legal to build on it because of the wetland. Then there was a question about the trees we took down. I pointed out that we had to get permission from the town to take down the trees, because of the wetland regulations, and we took those trees down after part of one of them fell on a car parked in our driveway. I then noted that I worried a lot when the wind was blowing that one of the other dead branches further back from our house might fall down on a pedestrian or car on Tuttle and That Would Be Bad. To which the older of the two women said, how awful a lawsuit would be. I just looked at her and said never mind that, I'd feel bad if someone got hurt.

There was a bit more to the conversation, and it was a more or less friendly exchange, but the one woman doing most of the talking was a perfect example of something I never understand. Anti-development, pro-property owner rights. Concerned only about a lawsuit, not about whether someone got hurt. When I asked if they knew whether there was any protection on the farm down the street from us, the one woman said those people were very protective, but neither woman had any awareness of current use rules (which R. says Massachusetts does have) -- and neither seemed at all concerned about that piece of farm machinery for cutting hay that has a for sale sign on the front of it. The younger woman, who had been quiet, spoke up when I commented that R. remembered a farm being where the Staples and Trader Joe's and so forth are now. Her in-laws, IIRC, had some connection to it, and the older woman made a comment about having to sell to pay the very high taxes. Which is when I brought up current use, of course.

The collection of ignorance and apparent contradictory political positions just strikes me as wacky. What was she going to do with any of the answers I might give her? Protest development? When she's apparently thinks ill of exactly the kind of regulation that makes it possible to stop development (the farm down the street is partly underwater right now, but then so is everywhere else it seems), it's hard to know what she might intend. Is she thinking she might apply some social pressure somehow? Just looking to complain? She seemed to think I might not like having a neighbor so close by (the houses were built on the one dry spot in an acre and a half), but I _love_ my neighbor J. and her family.

At least my walking partner's dad's political outlook holds together. I don't necessarily make exactly the same tradeoffs he does, but I can understand where he's coming from. When people come by and want to know how we cut trees down in a protected area, they understand the safety issue and recognize the value of the rules and how they are implemented -- usually they have a story or two of their own about stuff falling unexpectedly and then working through the process to fix the larger problems presented by trees that are rotting while still upright.

I probably _should_ understand the mysterious perspective of the woman I was talking to. If I just assume the world revolves around her, It All Makes Sense. But I don't usually make that assumption about _me_, much less some random stranger asking a bunch of questions I've been tired of answering for months now. I guess the good news is that she wasn't telling me my kid shouldn't be playing on the sidewalk. That was _much_ more annoying.

ETA: Zillow seems to think 88 Prospect (the farm in question) is about 16 and a half acres, and worth between $400 and $500K. Of course, Zillow is often wrong. Whatever the real value may or may not be, however, anyone worried about more development in the neighborhood should never walk by that particular parcel without feeling uncomfortable if not terrified about the prospects. We're relatively sure it is on the sewer. It is closer to the train station than we are.

ETAYA: One of our neighbors informs me that the property sells mulch hay (which I knew) to generate enough farm income to qualify for current use as agricultural. The breakpoint may be $500. And it is on the sewer.
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