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No Home Too Small

How Big Is Big Enough?

How Big Is Big Enough?

I wonder if anyone 50 years ago would have imagined that in the USA it would be possible to have a township or local government tell you that your home living space was too small to be legal.

Having NOTHING to do with safety, planners and zoning boards over the years have taken the approach of minimum occupancy to the extremes of preventing people from using their own property in a manner they see as appropriate. Ultimately, it is the dislike of single wide trailers that drives the ordinances, and offers the closest thing to legitimacy under a premise of decreased property values for surrounding homes.

Tonight I spent a few minutes before our local township board as they were about to expand their minimum square foot limitations to all zoning classifications.  I had to leave right away, (had another meeting to attend) so did not find out if they approved it, however this statement was made:

In a time when people need more options, not fewer, this township will be shutting the door to the possibility of small efficient single family homes.

While I understand the intent of ordinance #1-13 is to remove the possibility of single wide manufactured housing in areas where it could affect the values of adjacent and larger stick built properties, I have to ask “what business is it of this board or this township?”

Developments where covenants are enacted, can solve these issues through contract without abridging private property rights.

But property rights of individuals or families who wish to have a smaller footprint option, should not be limited because of an official bias against manufactured housing OR against single person or single family units that utilize less than 768 sq ft living space

Expanding the prohibition creates more of an argument to reexamine the damage to communities by zoning in the hands of utopian planners.

Instead of it being used as a tool to ensure safe environments and regionalize commercial and industry, it is used to exclude those from our community, who merely want to live their lives without being punished by yet another rule.

I would urge that this board not only deny THIS expansion, but revisit whether the township has a place in determining the size of personal living space to begin with.

Thank you.

I really didn’t want to spend a great deal of time on the subject.  I take the position that quick points made are more effective, and if the listener tires of the speaker, it matters little what else is said.  However, there have been some stories that might make this a little more interesting, and might also provide a point where the left and the right can bridge some issues.

There are folks who want to live in 300-500sq ft homes.  Its all they need, but zoning makes impossible. Affordability of a small footprint home is an obvious advantage as well.

I recall once when my brother rented out the last room in his trailer, and moved into the shed behind it for a time so he could save some money.  It didn’t hurt anyone, but if the zoning administrator had found out, he would have been made homeless as a result. The ordinance conceived with the best of intentions for some, relegating those without resources to either a life exposed, or being forced into acceptance of taxpayer subsidized living.

In fact, outside of the mental health issues that surround some homeless, are the products of bad luck and poor planning.  Some folks could elevate themselves much quicker if a small single room sized home became available at a cost that someone starting over could afford.  Minimum home sizes takes away options from those who need them most.

And then, we wind up paying in other ways.

4 comments to No Home Too Small

  • Lisa Kiessling

    Thanks for this post. I shared it on my FB page. I’ve been saying this for years. Nice to hear someone else who feels the same way. Thanks!

  • Kurt W. Kiessling

    I could not agree more! Local zoning has become a hindrance to people, business and property rights. The idea of less being more is certainly not being embraced by local government and their planning commissions to the detriment of citizens all across Michigan. Why should it matter if somebody wants (or can only afford) to live in a small home? I would agree with the idea that if regulations were relaxed on the minimums in home sizes fthere would probably be an increase home and property ownership across the state. I can’t see how that would not be a positive development. Pay attention to what happens at your local Township, Village or City meetings and Planning Commission meetings. Without public attendance and input your local elected officials are operating in a kind of vacuum and who knows what comes out of that!

  • JGillman

    Thank you both!

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