The agenda of last night’s public hearing was filled with the usual requests and concerns that come before the city Plan Commission… Developers requesting permission to build followed by planners and neighborhood representatives requesting modifications or voicing opposition or support.
Ron was grateful that city council appointed him to the commission. He enjoyed learning first hand what was happening in town, and he liked the fact he had a say in it. He took the responsibility seriously, although he joked about applying the wisdom of Solomon to cut development plans in half to please both sides of a controversy.
But there was one item on last night’s agenda that perplexed him. A national developer of apartment communities for senior citizens wanted to build one in the city. The location was perfect – close to shopping and a string of doctor offices. The project meant new investment and an acceptable use for vacant land that bordered both medical office buildings and a residential neighborhood. There was just one catch, according to city planners. The duplexes would be bright yellow.
“Bright yellow does not match the esthetics of the surrounding neighborhood,” the planners stated.
“Bright yellow is attractive and pleasing to seniors. We have done extensive market studies that led to our choosing this color,” countered the developer.
“What’s the big deal about yellow?” Ron thought. He must determine how he would vote before next week’s Plan Commission meeting. Suddenly, he knew who could help him.
He picked up his 83 year old mother at her apartment building (a dull mauve, which he did not particularly like but he had to admit was not offensive).
“Mom, I’d like to take you to lunch in a small town near here. There are some apartments there I want to see.”
“You’re not moving, are you?” she asked.
“No, I just want to see it.”
“You’re not moving ME, are you?” she asked louder.
“No, nothing like that,” he assured her. “They want to build one here and I just want to see what it looks like.”
“All right, dear. A drive with you would be lovely.”
He drove into the small town and turned onto a typical suburban street lined with houses in hardly-varying shades of taupe.
“What do you think about these houses, Mom?”
“Oh, very nice.”
He drove past some brick duplex apartments.
“What do you think about the look of these buildings, Mom?”
“Oh, very nice.”
Then he pulled onto a private drive surrounded by bright yellow duplexes. He saw his mother’s eyes widen.
“What do you think about these houses, Mom? Actually, each one has two apartments in it.”
“Oh, Ron, they are lovely! They’re kept so nice. People here must be very happy. Look at the little flower garden in front of that one. Oh, and those folks have a bird feeder.”
Ron pulled back out to the main street and drove to a diner for lunch, his Plan Commission decision almost secured. After lunch, as they left the restaurant’s parking lot, he explained he wanted to find the neighborhoods they saw before lunch, but he wasn’t sure which way to go. He avoided the word yellow.
He drove down the taupe-lined street. His mother said nothing. He drove past the brick apartments. She said nothing. As the car approached the yellow apartments, she excitedly pointed.
“There is where we were, Ron. I could find those anytime!”
His vote was sealed.
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