Ready to Lose 25% of Your Property Value?

by Osman Parvez

Should there be limits on the size of homes in Boulder? How large is too large? Results from an economic study on the issue were released yesterday.

From the Daily Camera:

The latest version of the proposed house limits would cap houses in the plains at 4,500 square feet above ground and houses in the mountains at 3,000 square feet above ground.

The study also presented a "quick and dirty" analysis on how the new program would affect property values and estimated it was possible that some land could lose as much as 25 percent of its value.

But land-use planners pointed out that the program would benefit people who want to buy a smaller house because they could sell the extra development rights.

The majority of the public who spoke Wednesday to the Planning Commission — in front of an audience of about 60 people — opposed the program and questioned the validity of the analysis.

"You are dealing with our lives, not numbers on a spreadsheet," said Allenspark resident Margaret Wray. "And remember, viable does not necessarily mean reasonable."

The Planning Commission will hold another public hearing in January before making a recommendation to county commissioners, who have the final say.

What do I think? As you might guess, I'm opposed to limits beyond current zoning but am open to other ideas. A better system, in my opinion, might require a review period for building permits that give neighbors an opportunity to get involved and have their say. Rather than passively restrict home sizes with draconian limits, concerned parties might weigh-in on the design of the home. Builders might be required to get approval, if neighbors have actively moved forward and filed to be involved. This type of system, requiring active participation and due process, might balance the interests of adjacent land owners without major damage private property rights.

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