Friday, August 03, 2007

Mississippi Kite

An afternoon bobbing and weaving between heavy rain showers found me at a vacant lot in an upscale subdivision in NW Gainesville, FL. A pair of Mississippi Kites winged overhead, calling loudly, and clearly taking insects out of the air above my head. I am not usually so close to these birds. It was very pleasing to watch these birds doing their work with such a will.

I was at that location to look at trees on the lot of a soon-t0-be-built home. Honest opinion: The lot was the one of the last to be built upon in the whole development. The pad was cleared and graded and I actually mistook it for a retention pond under construction. All topographic contours in the vicinity led down to this depression. I see why this lot was among the last to be sold. I hope the owner has approval to bring in the kabillion or so yards of fill that will be required to elevate the finished floor of the future home up out of the de facto moat.

I noticed that the home on the lot next door was built atop 2 nested ramparts delineated by a retaining wall, each 4 feet or so in height, like an ancient British hill-fort. The ledges provided great landscaping opportunities, but left little room for gardens and recreation areas. That configuration just made matters worse for the lot I was observing. That lot is the receiving area for all of the neighborhood stormwater runoff. Extra warning: since the subdivision road is a private road, the County does not maintain or take responsibility for the road or the runoff that properties within the development generate/receive. That should have red flags going up everywhere, especially to prospective owner-builders. Would you want your neighbor's home, who built up and atop the higher ground next to yours, towering high above your rooftop and surveying your Ninth Ward McMansion (c) from the vantage of his/her overlooking ramparts? Would you want the rainwater pouring off the roof and sheet-flowing from the yard to end up in your sunken living room?

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