Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Blaming myself

Pink wood sorrel (oxalis articulata) flowers in late fall and in spring, here along some pink mums.

I am mad at myself. I just returned from a meeting of the Historical Society here in UTown where any plans of changes to buildings in the historic district need to be approved. My neighbor, Republican gay guy, has for quite some time planned to build a garage on the empty land next to his house. He owns the plot between our houses. A couple of weeks ago we received notice of the meeting, and we could have gone earlier to city hall to look at the plans he submitted. I hardly see Republican gay guy, since his house sits on the corner with the entrance on the other street. We have not much in common. He is a businessman, and I guess he sees the people in our street as the bohemian intellectuals. Whenever he appears outside, he has a phone cradled between his head and shoulder, and his body posture has definitely suffered from walking around with the phone in the neck fold. You would think that as a realtor he would get one of those earpieces, instead the phone has become part of his body. Republican gay guy bought the rather large corner house some years ago and restored it according to its arts and crafts style. It is just a pity that the beautiful restoration inside does not carry over to the outside. His idea of landscaping is going to the home improvement store, get a bunch of whatever is blooming and then stick it in the ground, regardless if the plants are suited for the location or not. As a result the majority of the shrubs and flowers have died. My neighbor, an avid gardener from other country over there, and I continue to shake our head in disbelief when observing his newest landscaping adventures. “The boy has no clue,” my gardening buddy tends to say. We are both surprised at the amount of money he throws out of the window throughout the year. He easily could hire a landscape designer to help him to figure out how to match the outside to the house and choose the right plants.
But back to the meeting. Republican gay guy plans to build a four-car garage with an apartment on top, a cabana in one corner and a swimming pool to top it off. The garage and the wall next to it will be sitting right on the property line next to our driveway, and will separate our house from his garage. I am worried that this end section of our relatively short street will lose its character. Crepe myrtles line the sidewalk on our side, and all four houses are set back with a garden in front. The rather huge four-car garage will be forty feet wide, and in order to have a driveway, two of the crepe myrtles will have to go. There will be no green left at that end of the street, there will be only driveway and building. I just hope that there will be enough room to plant some kind of green hedge. When the project was presented to the Historical Society, neighbors had the possibility to object. But I did not. The discussion was then closed to the public, and two members of the commission objected since the large buildings will change the streetscape, but the realtor buddies of my neighbor stressed how much he had done for the historic district by restoring the house, and in the end the they vote went five to two for the project. There is simply no need for a four-car garage or more bedrooms. The house is big and has already five bedrooms, and that all for one single person. A one-story two car garage, fine, but such a huge compound?
Why am I mad? Because I had reservations and did not speak up. Would I have prevented the outcome of the vote? Probably not. But I feel horribly responsible for the impact on our street. I could have taken a look at the plans before tonight and told the other neighbors. But there I was tonight, the nice polite neighbor, a good girl, making no fuss. The project has still to be approved by the city, and I have already talked to my gardening buddy and her artist husband, and we will mobilize the others in our street. But I better start thinking what to plant next to our driveway so that we do not have to look at this huge garage right in front of our nose when we look out of the kitchen and dining room window. Teenage daughter suggested bamboo, does not need a lot of space and builds a nice hedge. And if it runs under the other side of the wall, well, what else could I plant on the one foot wide strip next to our driveway and the planned wall and garage next to it?


Phillip said...

You sound like me - I always keep quiet and regret it later. If he is indeed going to build a monster garage, I think you are wise about putting in some type of barrier to avoid the eyesore. Be careful about bamboo though - I have heard such horror stories.

I still think "gay republican" is such an oxymoron (or maybe just "moron")! :)

sky said...

You are right, with the bamboo (inspired by a thought of revenge, I admit), and the oxymoron, so true.