In order to curtail house-size growth in Boulder County, residents may be facing huge restrictions on the size of home the county will allow them to build. Based on 2006 building permits, the average size of new homes is around 6,290 sq/ft.
Under the current proposal, homes built on the plains would be limited to 4,000 sq/ft and homes built in the foothills would be limited to 2,600 sq/ft. But there's a caveat! Under the new proposal, you can build a home that is larger than the square foot limitation provided you buy development rights that preserve rural land somewhere else in the county, which could add up to a large chunk of change.
It seems the county has issue with the size of the home built, not necessarily the total number of homes being constructed. The county wants to encourage "smaller-scale development, reduced energy usage, and agricultural preservation." One 6,200 square foot home takes up less land than 4 separate homes each under 2,600 square feet. Why not limit building permits? This seems like the perfect opportunity to enact LEED building standards on a going forward basis for all new construction. Limit building permits and strengthen the county's building code with sustainable measures. However, there may be some local tensions between county and residents that we don't know about. Curious to know if other counties are considering this type of reform. Consider the quote from Boulder county land-use planner Peter Fogg:
"It's clear in our view that this ever upward trend in consumption, consumption, consumption is not sustainable, and we don't think it's unreasonable to put some checks and balances in place."
Thanks to Melissa Lafsky at the freakonomics blog for the heads up on this one. If you have never checked out that blog, give it a look sometime.