Late in the afternoon of the second day. we went off to meet with the farmers who own the land that surrounds our property. We needed to discuss two topics: get their permission to have an electrical connection pole put on their property, and explore the option of buying some additional land to address some of our land slope issues, particularly those on the front of the house.
Kevin wanted to meet at the property some we could discuss the options on-site, but the farmers, who are brothers, said we needed to come to their main house, about 20 minutes away.
A few weeks ago, Kevin had approached the brothers about the electric line and pole topic. We need about 1-2 m2 of land on which to put an electrical pole that will carry the line from another pole on their land. We won’t own this small square of land, just use it. From this new pole, we’ll have a line buried along our driveway to get to the house.
Kevin’s original attempts to get the brothers to say yes to the pole have gotten snagged on the brothers’ complaints about some olive trees that they said have been damaged by the equipment arriving at our house. (The piece of land they own to the south has a scattering of olive trees on it, but it looks like they haven’t been tended in years.) Further, they felt they had already been more than accommodating by letting our contractor put some supplies and materials on their land and to allow us to reshape the connection from the road to the driveway.
So now the brothers apparently wanted us to pay up. They wanted €2,000 for their permission to build the pole and dig the connection. Kevin was flabbergasted by this number. At €1,000 per m2, a hectare of land (10,000 m2) would cost €10 million — $4 million an acre — clearly an outrageous amount for use of, not even ownership of, a small piece of unused land.
Kevin had gotten them down to €1,500, but they wouldn’t budge from there. He thought that maybe if we were there while he negotiated further, they might soften up and we could get the price down to a more reasonable level. So we were standing by their barn, not saying anything but trying to look friendly, while Kevin went after them again.
Unfortunately, no dice. They weren’t budging. (Anne said later that maybe I should have tried. They might have taken pity on the foreigner trying to negotiate in Italian.)
We had an equal lack of success on the potential land purchase question, but for different reasons. Since the land is agricultural, the brothers receive some sort of subsidy from the European Union to leave it that way. They have an agreement through 2018, so they couldn’t sell any land now. Maybe they’d talk about it in 2019.
Of course, 2019 doesn’t help us in our desire to reshape our land right now.
When we left, Kevin repeated that he thought €1,500 was outrageous. But as of now, we’re left with no electricity to the site. We’ll probably just have to pay up.
This process went on for two more months before Kevin finally got the brothers to sign the paper.
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