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Minimum Lot Size in Growting Suburbs

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Many argue both sides of this issue. What is undeniable is that, regardless of the motivation, the policy drives up costs in several direct and indirect ways. Initially, costs of new homes rise because more land and infrastructure costs (roads, waterlines) are figured into the price of each unit. Next, maintenance costs for communties rise as there are more road miles and utility infrastructure to maintain. Lastly, and more indirectly, the policy ultimately creates an unsustainable dynamic. The community economics are disrupted that generate density for retailers and employers. As homes become increasingly costly, workforce housing gets squeezed out. Without these to contribute to tax bases, the burden falls squarely on aging homes and homeowners. Further, the dynamic is disrupted by the communities ability to provide education, public safety protection, health services and so on needed now or in the future by these aging homeowners. Some studies also demonstrate an adverse environmental affect. And so, ironically, the policy creates a self purpetuating detriment to the community overall.

The FHA has determined that the policy is, in some cases, potentially ethnically biased. Because many potential low-moderate income homeowners, or even apartment renters, are disproportionatly minority, large-lot minimums and other zoning regulation could be used to limit ethnic diveristy. NAHB Article

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The FHA has determined that the policy is, in some cases, potentially ethnically biased. Because many potential low-moderate income homeowners, or even apartment renters, are disproportionatly minority, large-lot minimums and other zoning regulation could be used to limit ethnic diveristy. NAHB Article

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Actually, a lot of that is deniable. It depends upon the suburb, the housing demands and markets, what kind of environmental limits are around, and what kind of development is happening. Much of what you describe results when you have large developments going up, limited land available combined with desirable location, and established limits on the number of bedrooms, baths, living quarters, etc. permitted, and road and lot frontage requirements.

It's really a catch 22 situation, and I think it has more blame on the developers than anything else. Developers can make more money on larger houses than smaller houses. Towns need to limit growth - both in being able to manage their resources, as well as manage their character - people move to suburbs specifically because they don't wish to live in density. Developers traditionally want larger houses, so they are going to prefer large houses with small lot sizes, then large houses with large lot sizes. So towns are then forced to choose the larger lot sizes as the lesser of two evils.

Ideally, it would be great to limit the size of a house, and limit the number of new houses that could be built in any one area at one time, to prevent the massive build up of McMansions. It's not easy to do, however, when you have a developer fighting every inch of the way, and people wanting to live in large houses with huge yards. If you go with a much more dense zonig, you simply get more of those McMansions in one area, driving up tax rates even further and creating more problems. And you can't easily rezone land into smaller lots, as people don't want more houses around them.

The only real solution, and alas one I don't think could work in a free market economy, is to do away with housing developments all together, and build purely on a per lot basis.

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