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We could see Detroit from our back porch. Trapped in suburbia, we hoped to retire away from it all. In 2002, after an internet search for affordable property, I flew out to look at property near Durango. How disappointing to find our prospective dream lot governed by an HOA with building and use restrictions and a $300 annual membership.
I widened my search, discovering Aspen Springs. The realtor assured me there was no HOA and no restrictions on what we could build or do there. The trade off? No electricity — No water — No sewer. Our reaction? No problem. We snatched up two lots in Unit 6, one with a great view and southern exposure.
In 2011, as we prepared to build, we discovered a building code had been passed in 2006 and become stricter since then. We had to get several permits, build bigger than we wanted and include amenities for which we had no need. We were told it was for our own good. We built to code, at considerably higher cost than planned, fearing at one point that our place would become yet another of the abandoned half built structures in the area and we would become homeless, because of everything we had to do “For our own good”.
We got our certificate of occupancy in November of 2011, moving in just as the snows began to fly. On meeting other members of the community, we discovered that many struggled with this increasing pressure to suburbanize.
Don’t get me wrong. Building codes designed to protect public health are good. Fire prevention — good. Banning asbestos — good. But do we nrrf micromanagement this far out in the boondocks?
People come to the less developed parts of Aspen Springs for many reasons. Some to live with nature, some for isolation, some for freedom from busy bodies reporting everything they do, but many to afford living without government assistance. Here, we raise our children away from the pressures of city life and dangers of the slums. Here, we enjoy a sunset and see sll the stars at night. Here, we breathe free. It’s such a minor trade off to haul water, generate our own electricity and use composting toilets or septic fields.
We have a blessed lifestyle, but more and more, we’re told that, “For our own good”, we must live beyond our means. Our homes must have a minimum square footage “For our own good.” We must have a certain amount of insulation “For our own good.” Our steps must be a certain size and staircases have a certain slope “For our own good.” “For our own good,” we are being priced out of living in this wonderful location. How can that be for our own good? As the suburbanization of Aspen Springs marches on, we feel as though the powers that be are answering us, in the words of a well known Dickens character, “Are there no prisons? Are there no work houses?”