Thoughts on an early retirement due to chronic disabilities and reflections on a well lived 35-year career as a City Planner and as a Commercial Real Estate Developer starting in 1980 by your friend, John Brandon, September 25th the Year of our Lord 2015.
I had a great career first as a City Planner then developing 1,100 acres for Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Company now home to over 12,000 jobs.
Following the first 16 years with these two significant jobs I was appointed by the Mayor to serve on the City of High Point, NC Planning & Zoning Commission.
These are 3-year appointments and at the end of my first term I was reappointed for a second term where I was honored to be elected Vice-Chairman for the first year then elected to serve the to remaining years of my time as Chairman.
This appointment was both an honor and a truly wonderful learning experience. It is a much different view from behind the dias when making decisions than it ever was making presentations and recommendations, as important as that was (and remains so today, staff has a tough job when they care about their constituantants).
This allowed me to see a real cross-section of my community. From those making the rezoning or other planning related request to then listening to the stories and worries, some real many often just fear of change!
These were the stories of those citizens who typically were in opposition. I learned quickly that people more often than not only show up at public hearings if they are in opposition to the proposed change.
Rarely did we hear positive commentary except from the property owner and/or their attorney and/or from the buyer who wanted the change in order to achieve their development objectives.
Often the opposition was fierce and had worked themselves into a frenzy about the real or perceived impact of the change to what they had always known.
Facilitating these discussions and coming up with workable solutions was truly satisfying. Of course, not everyone always left happy. I remain convinced that some people are just born unhappy and never seem to be able to see anything but potential negative consequences real or perceived.
Life is such, change will happen. I always maintained to make it the best possible development plan possible, take a vote and move on!
Easily during my time on staff then on the commission then later as a commercial real estate developer have touched in some fashion well over 500 zoning cases. It was an honor but serving time on any public commission is a service you perform because you care about your community.
It is in no way a happy duty, rather a necessary one you do to help move your city forward. And forward we moved, from a city of about 65,000 in 1960 when we moved here to the most recent census with a population of over 110,000!
With that I will call an end to Chapter One of my career. At this point we had our first son Jack, built our first house that we owned (along with the bank of course).
Penny continued to work however we agreed that she would be the parent that would stay home if our kids were too sick for pre-school or someone needed to go talk with the principal (they never expected to have an Alpha-Mom defend their child’s story as voraciously as Penny! I expect that principals and/or teachers would only make that error in judgement once!)
Our agreement was that I would concentrate on my job so we would have substantial and steady income always coming in predictably. This was accomplished without fail for 35-years, increasing ever year.
We had Jack in 1990 followed by Robby in 1993. When we had Robby we needed to sale the great small two bedroom house of our dreams and move into a three bedroom, which just happened ending up being just down the street in Nantucket Village. Instead of a moving truck we got dollies and rolled everything down the hill and up the steep driveway.
The decision for me to concentrate on my career rather than the kids would prove prospicious. That I promise to delve into when we discuss Chapter Two. Soon friends, very soon!