I am always surprised at how little some newcomers know about the North Fork when they buy their dream retirement or recreational retreat. You would think they might ask before they buy and maybe even meet with prospective new neighbors.
Here are a few things I would want to know:
1. What emergency services are available? How do I contact law enforcement and medical help?
2. How difficult is it to obtain handymen for small repairs not to mention contractors for bigger projects? How much do they charge?
3. How often will I have to go to town every month?
4. How often is the road plowed in the winter and graded in the summer?
5. What zoning regulations, if any, are in place, especially regarding things I might want to do on or with my property? For example:
Target shooting is allowed anywhere on the North Fork, of course, you must be safe but you do not have to ensure your neighbors quiet or game watching.
Are there setbacks (yes) or rental restrictions (yes)? How about restrictions on commercial activities?
6. What about pets? Must dogs be restrained or can they run loose? What if your dog chases wildlife?
7. What do I need to know about living with wildlife, especially bears?
Of course there are many more depending on the newcomers’ experience, where they are moving from and how much socializing they want to do. As important is do your new North Fork neighbors share your views about living in the “wilderness.” Biggest conflict on the North Fork is between close neighbors who irritate each other with noise, lights or pets. In town, these things are established. On the North Fork, folks think they can do anything they want even if they have close neighbors.
Maybe that used to be true, but we may live in the forest but we do not live in a wilderness – or anything close. Early settlement was the 160-acre homesteads. Now, there is a 20-acre minimum lot size, but there were a lot of 1-acre lots created before we had zoning. They have now been built up and aren’t that much different than living in town.
I would hate to guess how many plots there are that are smaller than 20 acres. I have one neighbor who has a magnificent view of the mountains, but can see the buildings of eight different neighbors. Of course, “cabins” are bigger and bigger with all of the amenities. We can only imagine what early settlers would have thought about indoor plumbing or 60 mph vehicles – and a road capable of driving that fast on.
And you think we aren’t loving our area to death? Think about it.
Larry Wilson’s North Fork Views appears weekly in the Hungry Horse News.