4 min read

Progress on two fronts.

Working on that to-do list as my other work allows.
Progress on two fronts.
One benefit of the landscaping redo is that now we all get to see the Majestic coal chute cover.

Today was not a big 615 day for me – I had a lot of other work to get done – but I did make progress on two fronts.

First off, with my morning coffee, I sat down and wrote up a couple of pages for our lawyer to use in drafting the conservation easement on the two trees we are looking to save with this venture: Bob the Oak and Ann the Black Walnut.

The conservation easement will be a legal agreement between the owners of the two properties, our current home and 615. It will basically say that the owners of 615 can't intentionally cut or kill Bob and Ann unless we agree to it.

Obviously we will agree to trimming the trees for health and to keep the tree limbs off roofs and such, and we'll agree to allowing regular and emergency maintenance by mutual agreement. I'm suggesting to our attorney that we pay for the maintenance as an incentive, but I'll take his advice on these things. The agreement will last as long as we own our home.

Because we currently own both properties, we can write whatever we want into the easement (so far as the law allows); we'll be signing as the owners of both properties. That means, for example, we can legally name the trees in the easement as Bob the Oak Tree and Ann the Black Walnut. Fun!

But obviously we also have to keep in mind that we want an easement that doesn't scare away buyers. So, this morning, I wrote up some material designed to explain to potential buyers looking at the easement why we care about these two trees so much.

Here's what I named: aesthetic value; property value; keeping thousands of gallons of water each year away from our foundations and out of the wastewater treatment system; maintaining "carbon storage heroes," to use the phrasing of the U.S. Forest Service; supporting local fauna, including dozens of bird species stressed by climate change; and provision of shade and associated reduction of our energy use and energy costs.

And, man, wouldn't you know that just as I was writing this up, the dreaded Wright Tree trucks showed up to cut yet more of the trees in our neighborhood on behalf of their customer, the Lansing Board of Water and Light (BWL).

They parked in front of my house. That felt ominous, so I got them to assure me they weren't coming on my properties...

It wasn't too bad this time around, but every time they show up and I have to listen to the sound of chainsaws and tree-grinders, it makes my heart race. The sounds today made me all the more glad we bought 615 Sunset Lane to save Bob and Ann. (They are not near electrical wires, so BWL can't touch them.) The easement feels like insurance on old friends.

Unfortunately, Bob and Ann can't provide enough shade to mean 615 needs no air conditioning, especially with climate change making our summers hotter. The prior owners used window units (we'll be giving away three on Saturday) but it's clear to me we'll have a much easier time selling the house with central air installed.

With the big bushes cleared and the prior owners having purchased a new forced-air furnace just a couple of years ago, the installation of central air went smoothly and easily today. After getting competitive bids and talking to other contractors about who does good work, I hired Daily Heating & Air Conditioning from west Lansing. They were great to work with.

The new unit is not yet electrified, so it hasn't been turned on yet. We'll have to wait for the new electrical service for that to happen. But my checklist of "must do's" got a little shorter with today's work.

Before the tech from Daily left, we spent a few minutes together admiring the old coal chute. I'm glad I don't live with that kind of heating system! But it is fun to see that remnant of the time, 101 years ago, when 615 was built.

What's up next? Working on securing a contractor for the demo and framing that has to happen for the kitchen, first-floor bedroom, and two of the bathrooms. If you're local and you've got a favorite for this kind of thing (demo and framing), drop me a line. I have someone who I think will do it at a good price, but naturally, he just came down with Covid....

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