Submitted by A.N.
I have many reasons to thank God for my life. I thank Him for my home, my parents, my cars, my musical instruments, my food, and my electronics. I also thank Him for one thing in particular – for not living in a planned community. Planned communities started to grow in the 1960’s during the uprise of socialism. One of the most famous planned communities, Reston, Virginia, is twenty minutes from my home. In Reston the iron fist of the neighborhood associations maintains tight control over the social order.
The most recent experiments of planned communities originated in the 1960’s when socialism became popular. While hippies were gaining attention in the media and forming communes, planned communities started to dot the landscape with wannabe Frank-Lloyd-Wright style houses located on streets with occultlike names such as Talisman Drive, Babylon Crest, and Satan Wood Drive. At the Nineteenth Century Brook Farm Experiment one of the first documented planed communities, the residents tried to create Utopia, a community where everyone would live in perfect agreement.
Reston, a planned community, about ten miles west of Washington, D. C., was proposed by urban developer Robert E. Simon, Jr. After studying famous cities in Europe, Simon decided to design his own planned community using socialistic principles to make the architecture buildings and neighborhoods look “aesthetically balanced.” Simon incorporated a set of rules called “covenants,” rules so restrictive that the residents could improve only the exterior of their home by cutting the grass of their own yard. After making up all of these “laws,” Simon and the others who were helping him with his “little experiment” decided to name the city. They came up with the terribly original idea of sticking the three initials of his name “RES” in front of the overused term for town, “ton,” which equaled Reston. This added another town in Northern Virginia using the term “ton” along with Fairlington, Huntington, Newington, Ballston, Shirlington, Clifton, Oakton, and Lorton, to name a few. But Reston was different because it had its own town center where yuppies could drive around with John Kerry stickers on their bumpers as these cruisers searched for the perfect cappuccino. Simon named one of the lakes Lake Anne, after his first wife, and another lake after Henry David Thoreau, the naturalist who encouraged civil disobedience in order to repeal unjust laws.
The neighborhood associations police their planned communities to insure the rigid enforcement of the covenants. They determine precisely what kinds of modifications may be applied to an individual’s property. Modifications not allowed when living in a single-family dwelling include remodeling the home, adding an addition, replacing windows or doors, installing a skylight, painting the exterior with an unauthorized color, building a screened porch or tree house, placing a kiddy pool in the back yard, fencing the yard, placing patio furniture outside (Where else is patio furniture put?), setting up a child’s swing set, displaying lawn ornaments, owning more than three cars, and parking a car older than a 1993 model in the driveway (unless it is deemed an antique by the Division of Motor Vehicles). On the other hand, actions allowed when living in a single-family dwelling in a planned community include mowing the yard, cleaning the gutters, clearing the yard of debris, and watering the flowers or grass.
When I first saw Columbia, a planned community in Maryland, and observed street names like Peace Chimes Court, Encounter Row, and Commitment Court, I thought “Gee, maybe I would like to live here. All the buildings and neighborhoods appear ‘aesthetically balanced’!” I wondered about the absence of yard ornaments and the lack of remodeled homes when at least thirty years had passed since the original construction. Then I realized these residents must adhere to a one pound manual of strictly enforced covenants.
To me, all this planning of communities seems to be another way to infuse Marxism and socialism into our culture. Why do I care that I don’t have the right color of shutters on my house? Why do I care that my address plate doesn’t match my neighbor’s? Why do I care that the neighbor next door to me has a 1992 Ford Escort on blocks and a ten foot inflatable snowman in his front yard? I do not care because these issues are none of my business. The way for me to strictly obey the covenants of a planned community is very easy – I DON’T LIVE THERE!