Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Hit the fuckin' road and piss up a rope

Dude!*

We totally won! The developer guy gave up! He's going away! Huzzah!

We went to a meeting last night of our town's Conservation Commission, where the developer was supposed to find out whether the Conservation Commission's rules applied to the land next door where he wants to build. We went around our neighborhood with flyers on Sunday to try to get some people to show up, because we thought this could be a big deal - at the very least, if the guy had to follow the Commission's rules, it would delay his project for a while, and at best it could cancel it altogether. (There's a stream that runs down the back of all the property on our side of the street that may qualify as "wetlands" according to the Massachusetts General Laws).

So we showed up expecting it to be another battle in a long drawn-out war. There were a couple people from the neighborhood already there, and when they saw us they came over and said that the chair of the commission had announced that Loser Developer had withdrawn his petition for determination of applicability. And we were like, "What does that mean?" He's stalling for time? He's thinking he doesn't have to abide by the commission's rules? What?

And we were sort of standing around in the hallway outside the hearing room discussing it when Loser Developer himself came out and told us he wasn't going to pursue the project anymore. He said they didn't think it was worth putting any more money into it because they weren't going to be able to build as many units as they needed to make a profit. Plus he said, and I quote, "I don't wanna fight the neighborhood."

That's me! That's us! We're the neighborhood! He doesn't want to fight us!

Sweet!

We totally made a difference.

So our city councillor was there, too, and after the developer dude left, he gave me a hug and said how lucky we were that it turned out this way, that situations like this don't usually turn out so well. He's sponsoring a resolution in the city council to re-zone our entire street to single family houses only, which would mean no more developments ever (yay!), so we're still going to work with him to get that passed - there's a hearing for that next month.

So my first foray into local politics has turned out well! Not only is the developer going away, but I got to meet lots of people in my neighborhood and feel like something I did had an impact. Even better, we didn't have to use the lawyer to get the result we'd hoped for.

It was hard for me to do some of that stuff - walking around knocking on people's doors and trying to convince them to be on my side is really REALLY hard for me. Getting up and speaking at that Zoning hearing was hard for me. Not freaking out and backing down after the guy came to my house and threatened me was hard for me. I feel like, at the advanced age of 32, I've learned something about the value of working hard for an issue you care about. If I'd done nothing two months ago when we first found out about this, it's very likely that they would have gotten their zoning variance approved and they would have already started construction (in my first conversation with the developer's local flunkie he mentioned starting September 15th). And I'd be miserable.

But instead I managed to do the things that were hard for me and overcome my vast reserves of social anxiety because I really didn't want this development to happen. It's funny - I was saying to our Councillor - I've never gotten involved with anything like this before, probably because nothing had ever impacted me personally before. But now that I've seen a little bit of how city politics work (and I'm sure the encouragement of a good end result helps, too) I feel like I want to keep doing things like this. KB and I have said that, whenever we end up where we're going to end up, we need to get involved big time.

The big loser here is the real estate speculator who bought the land from the people who used to live there. He was the one the developer was going to buy it from, and now that they're not going to, he's kind of screwed. I don't feel bad for him, though - if that's how you make your living, you've got to be prepared for some elements of risk, right?

Thanks for reading.

*And by "dude," I mean, of course, my tens of loyal readers.

2 comments:

Karan said...

Congratulations!!! Just wait until your little pooper gets in school...there are lots of battles to fight there!!

zachdb said...

Whoo-hoo!! Well done, good work, and congratumalations! Can you come fight a few of my battles?