Friday, July 15, 2005

Now clear this

Because I am evil, last year I hired a track-hoe to clear some brush and move some stumps/logs in my back yard. I live on a creek, and (as I found out) it’s illegal to do any kind of clearing/grading within a certain distance from the water. Now, I’m a big fan of having laws to prevent people from messing up the rivers, and I believe in protecting green space, etc. But what I did was clear some blackberries (an invasive non-native species) and impede erosion by shoring the stream bank with a couple of dead logs. My impact was less than what stream itself does in a typical winter.

Doesn’t matter how good I thought I was being, though – when my neighbour saw the trackhoe on the bank, and the blackberries gone, she thought I was doing a lot of grading and dumping trees in the river. She got out her video camera and also talked on the phone with other neighbours, and someone called the county to report me.

Upshot was that the county showed up the next day and told me I needed several hundred (or possibly a couple thousand) dollars in permits to do what I had done, plus they might have to send out a hydrologist and environmental specialist to evaluate my impact (at a cost to me of a couple hundred dollars per hour each).

They made me submit a site plan, and gave me a bunch of permit application forms to fill out.

I wanted some advice/help with the forms, so I waited for a chance for an appointment with the county rep. In the meantime I just sat on the forms, figuring every day I didn’t send them in was one more day I didn’t have to pay the money.

Finally, after about a year and a half, last week a guy from the county showed up while I was gone, looked around, and left his card with my son. When I called him back (his name was also Bryan), the conversation went like this:

Me: Hi, I’m calling about Enforcement Case # blah blah blah…

County Bryan: Let me just get that paperwork. Okay, here we go…

Me: I wonder, since we share the same first name, if that makes you inclined to just forget this whole thing…

County Bryan: [Looong Pause…] Under county regulations, it’s illegal to do any clearing within 100’ of a stream or river.

Me [gabbling]: Um, yes, well, of course you’re right. Ha ha ha. I’ve certainly been made very aware of *that*.

County Bryan: Anyway, I was able to perform a site visit, and it appears to me that all the cleared vegetation has grown back, so I closed the case.

Me: Oh. Is there anything else I have to do, then?

County Bryan: No, this will be archived, and the issue is closed.

Me: Well, thank you. I’ll certainly be a good boy from now on.

County Bryan: You’re welcome. Good bye.

So, on the plus side I don’t have to pay the county a jillion dollars.
On the down side, I’m also a dork.
But I’ll take that combination any time.


At Fri Jul 15, 02:47:00 PM PDT, Blogger unca said...

Chalk up one more for the value of procrastination.

At Tue Jul 19, 08:48:00 AM PDT, Blogger Andi said...

Kind of coincides with Bill's saying that the difference between a good haircut and a bad haircut is about two weeks, or in this case...a year and a half.


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