When the neighbors came a knocking, I could say it was my sparkling personality or perhaps the need to stretch their legs on a beautiful late winter afternoon that brought them to my door. No such luck. It was the giant dump trucks on my driveway that attracted them like moths to a flame. You see my driveway is long, really long, 3/10’s of a mile long and it belongs to the nice people I found on my doorstep Monday afternoon.
I thought the neighbors were here to welcome me to the neighborhood, and congratulate me on fixing up the drive. Perhaps they needed some gravel, too? Nope. I was oh so wrong. They are part of the Forest Conservancy Program. I had seen the sign, I just had no idea what it meant. A certain percentage of their property must be left natural and the two pull outs we’d created had eaten a small chunk out of their percentage–oops. I later learned that the county has redefined gravel drives as an impermeable surface, so they also must be counted as part of the improved property. That means our long and winding road counts against the land they can use–sorry.
Now let’s take a moment for some background. The wet and rutted piece of road we have called our driveway for the past three months was in desperate need of attention. We had humps, bumps, puddles and running water. It was a smorgasbord of bad road conditions. We have a 30-foot-wide legal easement along their property line down to our front door. The Mister’s friend came a day early. He made a few pull-outs, maybe a little bigger than we planned, took out some “speed bumps” and regraveled the drive.
The improvements that had made me deliriously happy had caused them quite a bit of frustration. Not the best way to meet the neighbors. I guess in the future, when easements are involved, it’s best to consult the actual property owners before any work is done. We’re out in the middle of nowhere. We didn’t think anyone would care what we did. We’re just trying to keep our cars marginally cleaner and not pop a tire or break an axle on our dismal driveway. The idea of having to back up almost half a mile in a minivan, if I met a delivery truck on the drive also gave me nightmares. We are learning.
So with a little less joy than when I first saw it, here is our new driveway:
Here’s one of two lovely pull-outs:
The Mister still has some work to do. There’s actual running water that pools up on the driveway creating our own personal car wash. He dug a trench and plans to put some pipe in to help with the drainage issue. For now, the situation is much better.
I in no way want to malign our neighbors. They are very nice people and after the first awkward moments discussing our driveway faux pas, they came in and we had a nice visit. Learning that the driveway as well as the pullouts are considered improvements to their property made me realize the weight of the issue.
They also own this grassy meadow we view off the master suite.
I guess the previous owners had a caretaker who took a bulldozer to the neighbors’ forest. We certainly don’t want to repeat anything like that. They plan to put native plants in this area, or they offered to let us do that for them thus allowing us to choose what we have to look at. We’ll be doing some research.
And the next time we make improvements to the driveway, we’ll do it on the other side of the road where they clear cut everything rather than on the forest conservancy side.