Thursday, August 10, 2006

Relieved is such a lame word

I'm feeling like death swiped at me and missed, just about.

Quite some time ago, I inherited four acres of agricultural land, with a rental house. I've never been too involved with it. It's leased to a farmer who sent checks like clockwork, and there never seemed to be any problems. Last year the house burned down, and I decided I should replace it.

The water comes from a well on another property. When my dad bought the place in the 50s, he never wrote in an easement for water, nor have we ever paid for water. When I mentioned my plan to rebuild to the owner of the other property, I met with increasing resistance. First, the water is of unacceptable quality; naturally, she wants to protect herself from lawsuit. I explained I had restrictions on who I could rent to, and that I would have them sign an agreement regarding water quality (the health department has standard forms for this). Strange that she didn't have a problem with providing water for the acreage – just the house. She wouldn't give a hint about preferring a yearly flat fee from me, or a percentage of maintenance, or buying into the well. She whined about how she'd never been given any help to drill the well. (My psychic powers are just not very good, sorry.) Then she began bringing up other problems with my former renters that neither she nor the farmer had ever mentioned. Then she brought up pesticides and how my future renters wouldn't want to live so close to where they were being sprayed. This last one is not her problem, so why was she being so discouraging?

She's good friends with my tenant farmer. He leases her land as well, and they've known each other 50 years. He seemed like a nice enough guy, until the contractor needed to know where the well was. The farmer said he didn't know. He's been laying the irrigation pipes forever, and he doesn't know where the well is. Yeah, right. I must conclude that for some reason, they didn't want me to rebuild. If I was paranoid (which is a sensible way to view things, at times) I would say they were trying to push me into selling.

All this is the result of six phone calls to them, piles of calls to other people, and eight weeks. I was feeling completely fucked all ways, making no headway. I found a lawyer with experience with well agreements, and made an appointment. $350 per hour, and an agreement could take as much as six hours. And completely without guarantee that the well owner would accept any of it.

Enter angel #1, in the form of three wonderful people at the Health Department. They gave me the phone number of another neighbor who has a well with sufficient flow and negligible impurities. Today, ten days later, enter angel #2: said neighbor, who called me back. He was very positive, very helpful, gave me all kinds of information. He had enough water to provide the house and the acreage too. He has someone who would want to lease the land, and might have someone to rent the house. He's interested in buying the property because he likes the view as much as I do and my father did. If I was considering selling, he'd be at the top of my list. And selling is in the back of my mind. When I was younger I thought I might live there one day, but at the present time I know I won't.

It's like the sun has just burst out from the clouds. I have an option.

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