What Local Historic District DOES NOT do: · Does not regulate paint colors · Does not require repairs or renovations to be made · Does not increase taxes beyond normal increases for the City or County · Does not prevent additions · Does not prevent non-contributing homes from being demolished · Does not require use of historic materials or historic building methods · Does not require that you open you home to the public · Does not restrict routine maintenance of properties
What Local Historic District DOES do: · Recognizes that Oakhurst has a distinctive historic character important to the overall character of the City of Decatur · Encourages creative and compatible development with historic areas · Requires that a Certificate of Appropriateness be obtained for exterior changes to contributing properties, demolition of buildings, and new construction. · Applies only to major renovations to the exterior of your home. Interior renovations are not restricted.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Building big is not necessarily building better

Article from Charlotte, NC's Creative Loafing: "McMansions are Us" http://charlotte.creativeloafing.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A6590

The article should be read in full. Using a definition of McMansion typical of the urban Atlanta area and Decatur of a home built to the maximum of the allowed lot coverage that is oversized and massed to have the appearance of looking much larger than the surrounding homes.

Some quotes from the article that I find interesting are as follows:

"But environmentalists and smart-growth proponents say McMansions could have dire implications for Charlotte. The natural resources needed to maintain larger houses and the traffic created by McMansion sprawl should have everyone concerned, from millionaires to paupers, they say."

"McMansions "tend to kind of create their own world." Gone is the simple master bedroom, he says. It's been replaced with a "master resort" complete with juice bar and exercise room. Gone is the den or TV room. It's been replaced with the home theater. And gone is the kitchen or breakfast nook. It's now a café. "They're actually creating the town hall, the café and the theater all within their house," Low says. "The communities don't deliver all of this. A classic suburban subdivision delivers exclusiveness and privacy, which is what suburbia is all about. What it doesn't deliver is community; basically, the McMansion is a substitute for community life."
McMansions have environmental groups increasingly worried about the impact large homes have on communities."

"Meizhu Lui, executive director of United for a Fair Economy, a liberal advocacy group based in Boston, said the demand for larger homes is driving less affluent people out of the home buying market as developers look to high-end homes for a bigger buck.
"Even though people need smaller houses that are affordable, the market is not as hot for those, Lui says. "They've really reduced affordable housing.""

"Some observers predict a retreat from McMansions. Low, the architect, says the Baby Boomers who buy huge homes are retiring. Faced with the prospect of walking up so many stairs and maintaining such a large house, they're looking for something smaller in walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods, he says. And the "young, hip creative class" will continue migrating downtown. "What's going to start happening is there'll be this gradual decanting from McMansion life, because it's boring," he says. "They could be our future slums," he says. "

The majority of Decatur residents are retired, semi-retired and professional couples without children. Are you willing to give up the unique historic character of your neighborhood to attract the mythical "modern family" portrayed by developers? We are not advocating restricting renovation and new construction, but rather smart development that promotes growth while retaining the very important historic character of our neighborhood.