Deep Dive: Prior Owner's Vision

Through a neighbor who has lived here for over forty years, I've learned that my lot and the one directly south of it were originally one parcel that was slated to be broken up into 21 lots. However, the township—wisely and thankfully—objected to the proposal, so it was split into two seven-acre lots. (How they'd planned to build houses on some of the rugged terrain of my property is beyond me.)

Evidently the prior owner of my lot was a distant relative of a family that once owned thousands of acres in North Hanover Township. Over the course of generations, the property was split up and given/sold to siblings, offspring and extended family members. It would seem my lot's owner moved to the Midwest before they could build, and never returned. I suspect they got tired of paying property taxes on land they'd never use, and finally put it up for sale. It was the last lot to be developed in a group of eight contiguous lots that some of the locals refer to as "the compound."

When I purchased the property in 2013, I received copies of the previous survey, completed in November 1996, showing what the prior owner had in store for it: a five-bedroom McMansion with a detached two-car garage.

The house and garage would have been built in the clearing I used for the septic system (below). Based on the condition of the stumps there, the trees were probably cut around the time these plans were drawn up, and likely coincided with construction of the "proposed drive" as well. Clearly they'd invested a non-trivial amount of capital in the project, when apparently their plans suddenly changed.

When I came along, I never even considered this as a spot for my home because it directly faces a neighbor who built their house right on the property line adjacent to mine (below). The last thing I'd wanted was to stare at my neighbor; my goal has always been to not see—or be seen by—anyone else. Not to mention that their proposed septic system required clearing out a sizeable chunk of trees adjacent to where I'd built my guest cabin, which would also have opened up a direct line of sight between the far end of the driveway and the house.

Furthermore, the view from the clearing (below) would likely have required substantial tree cutting and pruning before it might be considered "good" by conventional minds. Even then, it's hardly as dramatic as the view where I built my home, which did not involve "human intervention" to achieve.

At any rate, it was nevertheless interesting to explore the history of my property, and to see "what might have been"which I'm awfully glad never came about. Plus, I think it's fascinating to compare the two property surveys; hover to compare the old one with the new one. There are clear differences in some of the terrain contours, and I'm certain the current survey is more accurate:

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