Prior Owner's Plans

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 one-acre lots. However, the township—wisely and thankfully—objected to the proposal, so it was instead 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- or three-car garage in a classic "king of the hill" pose. Also notice that they would have filled in the Raccoon Ravine—which might have been problematic, as it would have encroached on the wetlands.

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 may have been cut down around the time these plans were drawn up, or maybe even earlier, and likely coincided with construction of the driveway. Clearly they'd already invested a fair bit of capital in the project when their plans 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); indeed, under current DEP rules, they could not have built where they did. The last thing I'd ever want to do is stare at my neighbor! My goal has always been to not see—or be seen by—anyone else.

This problem would have been made worse because, in all likelihood, many of the trees surrounding the planned house would have been cleared and/or significantly pruned, since they would otherwise have had a view no doubt unacceptable to conventional tastes (below).

By contrast, that's a view I crave. Natural. Unspoiled. Beautiful.


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