Monday, February 9, 2009

You know you’re in trouble when…

Every once in a while, you find yourself headed down a road where you can see impending disaster ahead, and it’s so obvious that all you can do is find the humor – like a pile up at the leeward mark. One of those instances occurred for me a couple of nights ago.

I was waiting for my hearing at the local Conservation Commission. In and of itself, this was an enterprise destined for disappointment. As the applicant, I knew I wanted to build something that this board of environmental guardians was bound to hate, and they would either impose expensive and odious limitations on it or crush my idea all together. In this instance, I realized that I was pushing all the limits, but I felt that I had come so far that I should at least have my say. I wasn’t expecting much.

As I was waiting, they began their session by addressing the applicant ahead of me. An aspiring eagle scout wanted to build a canoe rack for the town, located on the town’s beach, at no cost to the town. The apprehensive kid could barely speak in front of the Board of Zealots (and he wasn’t even aware of the zealot part). He had a very nice three page PowerPoint handout describing his project, but it was painful to watch him try to explain it. Somehow his intentions were finally understood (it was only a canoe rack, for God’s sake), and then the questions started. Would he be using pressure treated wood? Isn’t that full of arsenic? No, they don’t use arsenic anymore. Maybe you should use cedar? How many holes in the ground? Do you have to dig holes? How far from the water? Thirty feet, right at the stone wall. Could it be farther away? We’d like to have it fifty feet from the resource area. Know what? You should meet the agent at the site and review the location. Do you want to wait until there isn’t two feet of snow on the ground?

On the site there is a small beach, then a stone wall, then a hill. Where did they expect it to go? Up the hill? The canoe, water, rack relationship most of us would expect was not taken for granted.

As I felt sorry for kid, I thought to myself, “You’re in trouble when they tell an eagle scout that his donated canoe rack is too close to the water.”

Imagine what they said about my proposed boathouse being two feet from the wetland.


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