Residential Restraint: Big-House Backlash

Residential Restraint: Big-House Backlash

Jennifer Hunter
Oct 24, 2012

It's the American dream, on steroids. Home ownership is seen by many as a key to stability and happiness. But as homes grow larger and more elaborate, and often replace older architectural gems, some communities are fighting back, and facing some sticky issues of property rights versus historic preservation.

This Old House details just such a battle in Chevy Chase, Maryland, where, after an influx of oversized mansions built on lots previously home to more modest and charming vintage homes, a few citizens began taking matters (and eggs) into their own hands and retaliating with vigilante justice.

This approach was, of course, not the way to resolve such a touchy conflict, and resulted in an open letter from the mayor, begging for civility. The property owners assert that they're entitled to demolish and build whatever they choose, within zoning guidelines, while other community members argue for the preservation of classic architecture and open space. After all, "houses built today are typically more than twice the size of ones built in 1950, yet lot sizes have remained the same." A huge house crammed into a historical community doesn't give anyone much breathing room.

In Chevy Chase, citizens took action through official channels and petitioned for a temporary halt on new construction, which the town council approved. But realtors, developers and property owners aren't happy and say the measure will slow growth and could affect their economy long-term.

What do you think? How much should property owners consider the needs of the community before building their dream house?

Read the full article at This Old House.

(Image: Shutterstock)

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