Progress

The City of Fairhope, as part of its ongoing beautification effort, is gradually burying utilities, first in the downtown area and then, as time and the budget permit, in neighboring urban residential areas. There was considerable excitement around the corner from me a few weeks ago as City crews arrived and started trenching in several front yards. I’m not entirely clear on the current state of play: two new utility poles have been erected and none taken down, but the new poles are clearly the termini for the red plastic pipes that have been buried and are currently protruding from the earth at the base of the poles.

I happened to be at the City Public Works building for a meeting while this was going on and had a chance to ask the electric superintendent about it. It turns out that there is a utility pole smack dab in the middle of the lot where a new house is being constructed.

Not a pretty sight, to be sure, and the builder had asked the City to try to move the pole or eliminate it by burying the utilities. When the Electric Department surveyed the situation, it was decided that there was no way to remove this pole alone, and when the dust had settled, the plan that emerged required burying utilities all the way to the corner in one direction (across several lots) and several more lots in the other direction. So at least half a dozen other homeowners will benefit from this improvement.

What puzzled me was how it could be that I had not noticed the obtrusiveness of this pole before. The lot on which this new home is being built is the one on which the “little pink house” was demolished. If you refer to that photo, which I will duplicate here, you will see no trace of a utility pole.

I looked at all the photos I had taken of this house, and the utility pole did not appear in any of them, including one taken from an angle that included the street in front of the house.

So I checked Google Street View, figuring its photos would be old enough to show the original structure. Sure enough, here’s the passing shot:

The lot occupied by both structures is a fairly wide one—not double, perhaps, but at least a lot and a half, and the original pink stucco cottage had been built well over to one side of the lot, with an ample side yard separating it from the house next door. The footprint of the new house has expanded into that area, up to the legal setback, with the result that it extends beyond the utility pole that was well to the side of the original structure. By allowing for a driveway on the right side, it has perhaps increased the distance between the pink house and the yellow one to the right of it, but it is still a much larger house. Progress!

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