July 10th has been my only concern this past month as we awaited our variance hearing. Every time I saw it on the calendar, or heard it in passing, it would trigger my anxiety and give me hot flashes. July 10th was the date of our variance hearing, which I talked about in my last post.
Even worse was the summons I got, for my first ever jury duty, ON July 10th that I had to appeal and hope they would accept because otherwise I was ready for jail. They had 364 other days to choose from and of course they pick that one. Cancel my vacation? Done. My wedding? No problem. The hearing? Sorry, you'll have to drag me out of there in handcuffs - after the meeting, of course.
Thankfully July 10th was cleared, and I spent the past few weeks asking local Facebook groups about variance hearings, wondering if anyone had experiences to share. Not only were most of them pretty grim, but there was also the suggestion to hire a lawyer, which I did entertain for a couple of days out of panic.
Instead I prepared a speech and hoped for the best.
The meeting was called today at 6:30 and we were last on the agenda, but the first person on the list was a no-show. While the other two cases were way more complicated than ours, both were denied, which didn't help our nerves. Despite the fact we were last, the 6 people there for the case before us decided to stick around for ours, and I wanted to melt away at the podium as my fear of public speaking intensified with an audience.
I choked back a lot of tears, and it was probably longer than it should of been, but I presented our case as best I could.
"It was two years ago, almost to the day, that Jay and I drove up the 900’ tree-lined driveway to a clearing tucked away in Acushnet wilderness. As I stood in the middle of what would be our future front yard, I watched my husband call his best friend in sheer excitement, and could finally picture the house and future we had big plans to build for ourselves here on this land.
Two years prior to that moment, I was working 3 other jobs in addition to my full-time job, in an endeavor to pay off the $50,000 of student loan debt I had accrued getting an education. All the things I envisioned for myself in life - like getting married, raising a family and owning a home - were unrealistic goals while I was paying that twelve hundred dollar a month payment, and my entire life was put on hold when I decided to change that.
On March 24th, 2016, I made my very last student loan payment, all in the name of working towards our ultimate goal – building our first and forever home.
A home to love and cherish, to tend to, and to take care of.
A home to bring our first and maybe our second baby back to, to watch them take their first steps in, and watch grow.
A home on 6 wooded acres of land where those future children will chase fireflies, get muddy, and grow up wild on the homestead we’ll build with them.
A home that my future husband will be building with his bare hands, along side his grandfather, via the family business.
We closed on this land, on those dreams, on July 29th, 2016, and have spent the last two years saving every penny we’ve ever earned to get to where we are today - finally ready to build.
We purchased this property knowing the research and potential hazards of living near power lines, but the plot plans and estimated measurements painted a picture for us where the power lines were of no concern. They’d be a part of our backyard, but the area the sellers had cleared for the proposed dwelling, where we’ve been picturing the house for the last 2 years, were a comfortable distance away.
It wasn’t until we had a surveyor go out and stake the house, in preparation for excavation, that we discovered this was not at all the case, and that one side of the house would be within the easement’s clearing.
The belief that living near power lines is dangerous has been around for generations. In fact, many researchers have studied whether proximity to power lines might be the cause of leukemia and other cancers, abnormal heart rhythms, miscarriages, low birth weight and even birth defects. Acushnet’s own building inspector has advocated for us in his letter, referencing a story he told us about a family who’s lights and electronic devices were constantly interrupted due to the high tension power lines being too close.
While the results of these studies have been mixed, the fact there is no clear, definitive answers was the only thing that ever made us hesitant about purchasing this land.
Still, though, we persisted, comforted by the proximity of the lot clearing and power line easement, as well as the barrier of trees that was between them.
Despite the fact those trees between the easement and clearing played a part in easing our concerns, they, too would have to be cut down and removed in order to place the house in its current, proposed location. As a couple who values homesteading and nature, and who purchased this property with wetland regulations specifically to keep as much native vegetation and trees as possible, having to make yet another clearing on the lot goes against our vision for the land, and the values I have as a beekeeper (and hopeful future board member on Acushnet’s conservation committee).
With all that said, we’re hoping the Acushnet Board of Appeals accepts our request for a 30 foot variance, allowing us to position the house just a tad more to the left, moving our future forever dwelling further away from the hazardous power lines, and saving many trees in the process.
Thank you so much for your time being here tonight, and please do not hesitate to ask us any questions in regards to the build.
- Jay and Kelsey Janak"
And we passed.
The entire board were all in favor of granting our 30' variance, allowing us to move our house out of that power line easement and into the clearing where we've been picturing it all along.
There's a 20 day waiting period for everything to get filed now, but otherwise we're good to go!