Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Do it in an election year!

As I try to simplify my life and put some order into the things I do there always seems to be some fool that wants to tell me what I can or can not do on my own land. Let me tell you about three places I own all in different towns. The first place is where I live and we call it the homestead, eleven acres in a small hamlet. The place has a large barn that I built in classic style, Gambol roof, high ceilings, full second floor, this is my garage workshop. Why? Because if I called it a barn the zoning laws say I could not build it. The next building is my stable where I keep my two horses, have had two horses in this building since 1969, but had a town official try to have them removed because the stable is not 75 feet from the side line of the property. He failed and my horses became "GrandFathered", go figure my two mares are Grandfathers. Third building on this property is the house and what a grand old house it is. Build in the early 1800's, moved to it's present site in 1920 and placed on a full basement. My wife and I have done our homework and docuemented the history of our house. It started out as a grainery for a hotel that serviced the wagon trade route from Buffalo New York to Erie Pa. As it turns out we live one day's freight wagon ride from the city of Buffalo. The "Johnson Hotel" also kept oxen to pull the wagons up the hills formed by a gorge on the route. Well, as it turns out no good deed will go unpunished! As a direct result of our own research the town fathers decided that they needed to tell me just how any renovations of "my" old house could proceed, because of historical values. WTF? The place was falling down when I bought it and they did not have a lick of trouble raiseing my taxes after we got the old girl looking good. It is a cool house, Federalist style, very tall, massive post and beam construction, designed to hold the weight of grain bags and freight. This house is a blog all it's own.
Place number two is the family farm plus fifty-four acres. My dear old mother left me the family farm after she died and my youngest son lives in the house, rent free. The rent free part is not what I had planned,but the boy has a mother I have to live with. Both of my parents were collectors, dad collected outside, my mother collected inside. What did they collect, you ask? Some of each is the best way to discribe it. The house was home to six children and when mom died I doubt you could find room for one extra person in the house. Dad was a hard working man who had a love of all things made of metal. Dad has been gone twelve years and I am still finding things on the property. The fifty-four acres is a piece of land that I bought in 1972 that butts up to the family farm making the whole place 75 acres. As you know I am a hicktified, rednecked, country boy at heart, so what would I do with 75 acres? Either further my father's "Collection" or clean up the whole place, put the acres back into production, and build a new barn to house my crops and animals. I choose the later. Well guess what? Here comes the calvery to protect me from myself,"You can not build a barn there because it is too close to the property line," says the building inspector. The property line to the fifty-four acres that I also own. WTF? So here I go more reseach, buy a copy of the zoning laws, he is wrong, so I point this out to him. The wise building inspector says," That rule only applies to agricultural zoning and your place is now zoned residential, we changed it when your mother died." So I now have the biggest back yard in town to hear him tell it. So this light bulb comes on over my head, "Hey I'll get the zoning changed back to agricultural",I say to myself. Now just to clarify why I would think that this should not be a big deal, my two properties, that I could make one for a small fee,$250.00, are surrounded on all four sides by am agricultural opportunity zone. No way, no freaking how can I change it back, I am told.Well tell me no and I catch an attitude, comes from being the youngest of six kids, so again I start the education process. I research the legislation the creates the Ag. zone I am surrounded by. There is a line in this law that says the "Town" will facilitate agricultural start-ups inside the zone, Hey that's me! What I found out was the "Town" is given a pie from the state and this pie is sliced up so all the farmers get a slice. If I take a slice everybody else will get a smaller slice. Got to love my wife, as she boldly proclaims, "Let's see what Hillery Clinton(Sen. from New York) has to say about all this." When I stopped laughing she got on the phone , made a few calls, and the "Town" clerk called to say that I could build my barn and that when I get some free time to please come down to the town hall and fill out some papers for my Ag. exemption. That was three years ago and now I am a home boy even get invites to the farm meetings, and the taxes are about half of what they wanted me to pay. By the way I built the barn and it is a beauty.
Now 40 miles away.....
One day I was driving around and noticed a realtors sign in the ditch in front of a large field, so I stopped my pick-up and took down the phone number and called the lady. I asked if she had a listing for this property and was informed that the listing ran out three years before. I asked if she could find out if the property was still for sale and if it was could she send me some details. She did, It was, and she did. I made an embarassing low ball offer for 89 acres of the nicest valley I had ever seen. The owner a 90 year old from 100 miles away took it! I paid ten percent of his original asking price so I take this as a sign that this was meant to be. We are on track to build our home on this valley and make out last move.
Remember I told you I was an old Hippie? Well now I am going back to those roots with a twist, we are building a total "Green" home and going off the grid. Employing solar, hydroelectric, geothermal, and maybe wind. No septic system, composting toilets and a grey water recovery system. So having been hit in the head with a hammer so many times I put on my hard hat and headed to "Town" to get my permits in order. Now I have several bruises from pinching myself,not only were these folks helpful they encourgaged me! WTF? I now have friends the work for the local government and the county after the county health inspector listened to my plans for waste. He was honest, he had never heard of the system I am going to use, even after I showed him that the county allowed the system. I have since sent him reems of info on it and he has taken this knowledge to the next level, showing me some things I did not know. We have the driveway in and a power pole with a meter. My site prep is well o its way and the building inspector, who is a neighbor has been helping me with his brush hog. I think I am going to like it there.

1 comment:

magz said...

oh YEAH! I am so there; from 2500 miles away.
Stoopid laws stoopid rules,
circumnavigated by good neighbors.

Congratulations my Brother, for doing this. Keep it up.

(Much as I just professed to love 1/4 horses, the last 2 family I just sold were Arabs. A pure Egyptian Matriarch and her 1/2 (looking Polish; ie leggy, tall and purdy Daughter) that Hurt. And was Neccessary. They're both blogged more than a few times in my Farm archives Slip.
Family. It means much to me. Maggie My best to Yours brother!