By AnnaLisa Madison
Recently, I listened to a visitor from New York criticize the residents of Fox Run Road for their yard signs opposing the MacMansion complex being constructed in the new clear-cut at the north end of Fox Run Road. The criticisms mirrored talking points previously expressed by the developer (perhaps a relative), based on the same disregard of the culture of the Fox Run Road community. For the benefit of those who may walk or drive through the neighborhood, see the signs, and wonder what the residents are thinking, I offer the following insights, in response to specific criticisms.
Criticism #1. “You should welcome new people into your community, but the signs make people feel unwelcome.” This criticism is nonsensical. A community is a group of people bound together by a common set of values. The common values of the Fox Run Road community are one acre lots, small houses, and lots of trees. This has been the case since Fox Run Road was settled, and the developers carefully scooped out space for the houses, leaving the mature trees in place. If people moving into the neighborhood share the same values, then they become, by definition, part of the community. They are welcome here. When people moving into the neighborhood do not share the community’s values, as evidenced by their huge house, on a small lot, with no room for trees, they are by definition NOT part of the community. Logically, how then can they be welcome in the community? At best, the criticism can be rephrased as, “You should welcome new people to the neighborhood, even though they choose to flout the community that has always defined the neighborhood. It is hard to take that version seriously.
Criticisms #2 and #3. “The developer owns the land: he can build anything the law allows, and you need to get over it. The signs will offend the new neighbors, and the current residents are being jerks by keeping them.” These criticisms refute each other. In a community, each member benefits from the efforts of all of the other members. We each can afford only one forested lot, but by cooperating, we are able to live in an entire, forested neighborhood. Every day, the new MacMansions, having replaced the forest of existing houses, broadcast the statement, “We have taken away your community’s forest, and you can do nothing about it because the law protects the developer, not the resident.” The statement is true, but it is obnoxious. One might say, “Jerky”. Evidently, following criticism #2, it is perfectly acceptable to erect, on one’s own property, objects that offend the neighbors. Sort of like yard signs, perhaps? The analogy is not perfect though: the MacMansions daily offend the current residents; the yard signs only convey this fact to people considering buying into the new development and thus considering associating themselves with that daily offense. Certainly, I can understand why the developer would want to these considerations hidden until he collects his money.
Criticism #4. “It is a shame that this is what has become of the Bedford community.” This criticism is delusional. The Fox Run Road community retains the same values – large lots, small houses, many trees – that it has had since the road was settled 50 years ago. The neighbors remain united in these values, as evidenced during the town hearings that approved the MacMansion complex when nearly every yard on Fox Run Road displayed a yard sign opposing the project. The neighbors continue to welcome new arrivals joining the community. I am proud of our community. Bedford is a town, composed of many communities, and perhaps some of those communities have values along the lines of, “Do whatever you want; forget the neighbors.” But in my experience, such attitudes do not represent Bedford in general, and I would not consider it in any way a shame if communities with such values became more like the present Fox Run Road community.