Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Mansions vs. McMansions

Greensboro's Treasured Places reports that the Irving Park neighborhood is thinking about adopting an NCO -- not a non-commissioned officer, but a Neighborhood Conservation Overlay. They'd be the first neighborhood to do so since the city council passed the ordinance enabling the overlays.

NCOs allow old neighborhoods to craft their own development guidelines, including street setbacks, building forms, and building materials. The goal in Irving Park would be to stop tear-downs and the building of bulky contemporary houses on small lots.

If that's what Irving Park wants, I'm all for it: that neighborhood is stunningly beautiful and worth protecting. You don't have to live there (and few of us can afford to) in order to enjoy a jog or a bike ride through it and appreciate its many architectural and landscaping wonders. It's kind of like an architectural park for the whole city. (Bless those developers in the 1920s for building sidewalks!)

It will be interesting to see how the neighborhood debate plays out. One assumes that Irving Park, being our most prestigious neighborhood, is probably a stronghold of market-based, laissez-faire, anti-regulatory capitalists. Will those folks oppose regulation when it stands to protect their property values?

We'll see. Just remember Wharton's Land Use Axiom #1: Land use makes hypocrites of us all.

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