MILPITAS, CA—Citing space considerations, the need for a more forward-looking acquisition plan and community concern over severe electrical-outlet overcrowding, Milpitas city officials met with area resident Herb J. Fenton Monday to develop a sensible long-term plan for the controlled future growth of Herb J. Fenton.
"The issue of 'Fenton sprawl' is the most serious long-term civic planning challenge facing Milpitas," said Bonnie Walker, president of the "Fenton 2000" planning committee. "Fenton's unregulated consumption, which in the past month alone has included a new motorcycle, minivan, stereo system, gas grill and patio set, puts him on a growth trajectory seven times that of the average U.S. consumer. Project that to the year 2010, and you begin to see the potential for disaster."
Throughout the five-hour, closed-door meeting, council members expressed a willingness to compromise with Fenton, though they sharply criticized him for what they termed "a long history of reckless, unchecked growth."
Among Fenton's more questionable moves: the recent purchase of a small digital satellite dish to augment the large dish already in place; last month's expansion and renovation of his living room to make room for a new billiard table; and a projected May '98 in-ground swimming pool installation.
Council members were particularly critical of Fenton's controversial recent purchase of an oversized trailer, a move he staunchly defended.
"I realize that an 18-foot trailer will greatly increase the density of my already overtaxed one-acre lot," Fenton said. "But let's be honest: My snowmobile and fishing boat aren't much good without a trailer to tow them. Growth, in this case, was absolutely unavoidable. Clearly, with their opposition to my new trailer, city council members are trying to curb my purchases not just of luxuries but of necessities, as well."
Council members also raised a number of serious Fenton-related storage issues, primarily the question of where he plans to put his new riding mower. "As we all know, Mr. Fenton's tool shed is already full," Walker said. "And while the construction of a second tool shed to store the mower would be helpful, in the long run such a structure would only serve to aggravate the problem of unregulated Fentonian expansion."
Fenton said that now that his three children are all in their teens, the proposed second shed could be built on land currently occupied by the youths' childhood swingset. Such a plan, however, would require the approval of Fenton's wife Cheryl, who is believed to strongly oppose the plan because of the swingset's status as a family historical site.
While Monday's meeting did not result in a comprehensive, workable Fenton containment plan, council members did conclude that a good deal of Fenton sprawl could be eliminated through consolidation.
"Instead of having a 27-inch television in every single room of the house, perhaps Mr. Fenton could opt for 32-inch televisions, but only in the living room, kitchen, master bedroom and breakfast nook," Walker said. "It's a quality-of-life issue. Bigger TVs with more channels, not more TVs. More heads on the VCR, not more VCRs. Only taping very special episodes of McMillan And Wife, not every episode. Simplify."
Fenton responded that such suggestions, while well-meaning, are unrealistic. "Should I also stop buying the Gotham City-sized Tostitos corn chips? Should I stop buying 72-can packs of Pepsi? What will I put in my refrigerators then?" he said.
Making a sole concession to the council, Fenton grudgingly agreed to hold a garage and rummage sale later this fall. "I guess I could sell off a few things. We don't use the trampoline much anymore, and I'll probably never get around to fixing up my old riding mower now that I've got the new Toro," he said. "But no way I'm selling those golf clubs—I still have to learn to play golf someday."