Tear-down crocodile tears
On Wednesday, March 24 I wrote about Housing Restrictions: the planning board’s looking at limiting the ability of homeowners to sell for knockdown and rebuild. They’re still at it.
The joint Zoning Amendment Review Committee and The Principality’s Regional Planning Board. Yesterday’s article in the Packet states
On Tuesday, the committee began its review for the township by flagging several neighborhoods for planning staff to take a closer look at, including Littlebrook Road, Southern Way, Cedar Lane and the area around Lake Carnegie, which committee member Wanda Gunning called “prime tear-down territory.”
. . . “Once one of those houses has taken that leap it starts the trend,” Ms. Moore noted. “Once it gets rolling, every little house near a big house is at risk.”
[The Principality’s] Planning Director Lee Solow observed that a big, million-dollar house is not necessarily a negative for the township, which he said can benefit from the property-tax revenues.
Member Philip Feig said stricter zoning shouldn’t undermine homeowners’ rights to profit from their property holdings if they wish.
Member William Enslin asked, “Do people have unlimited rights to build a house totally out of proportion to the rest of the neighborhood?” Mr. Enslin said community diversity must be safeguarded with moderately priced housing.
Member Victoria Bergman said affordability can be attained through housing density, but Planning Board Attorney Allen Porter said density alone will not do it.
“The control on what they can sell for is what they can sell for,” Mr. Porter said. “In [The Principality], you’re up against the market.”
Let’s face it: real-estate “market forces” are not dictated from bureaucrats above high; market forces are determined in deed (in every sense of the word) and in fact by people wanting to buy houses and people willing to sell houses coming together at a mutually agreeable price.
We’re not talking about a contagious virus, and not “every little house near a big house is at risk”. Even if the owners want to sell it (for a lot of money) to someone who wants to tear down and build big, so what? A house’s aesthetic value, its practicality for contemporary life, and its optimal use are not determined by its size.
Property rights are the touchstone of democracy, and the main reason our country has prospered throughout its history. Touting someone’s idea of “diversity” and “affordability” as reasons for restricting property rights and not addressing high taxes — the reason why people with lower incomes who already own here are selling — is mere window-dressing.