McMinnville Regional Planning Commission once again discussed the possibility of reducing the minimum lot size within the Residential-1 District, from 15,000 square feet to 10,000 square feet. This was the second discussion, so apparently this idea isn’t going away.
Given as a visual was Willow Way. Community Development Department director David Baird says those houses set in 8,000-square-foot lots.
However, I’m sitting listening and thinking a little closer to home. I have 1.75 acres which is 76,230 square feet. Two sides are road frontage. The thought of up to six more homes on my lot gave me an instant feeling of claustrophobia. My house is somewhat in the middle. Even four, with two on either side, seems a bit crowded to me.
Reasons have been given for reducing the minimum lot size: 1) the younger generation doesn’t want big lots; 2) reduced lot sizes would allow more homes; 3) because the city cannot forcibly annex, this could prompt additional growth due to more subdivisions being built within the city limits (more property tax revenue); and 4) smaller lot sizes promotes affordability.
I won’t argue any of those reasons, I will say that larger lots have advantages that should be appreciated.
One, and the most important to me, is privacy. I used to live in a very condensed area. Homes were so close together that any outside noise could be heard in the adjacent home. I had neighbors who loved to have verbal altercations in their front yard. I heard those discussions on a regular basis. There was really no privacy.
Two, expansion opportunities. If I so desire, I have the space available to easily add onto my home without worry or ending up back where I was – in close proximity to neighbors. If you’re a young couple without children, chances are you won’t stay that way. Having space to expand is always a good advantage. It beats the alternative – living in cramped conditions or having to upgrade in five years or so.
Three, landscaping. The weekend before this meeting I did approximately six hours of yard work. Maintenance of a yard that you know is yours is satisfying. It’s therapeutic, when you need a distraction from the grind of making a living. More times than not, I sit on my porch steps afterwards and look out at all I have accomplished. Pleased with my efforts.
Four, outdoor activities. I had a large enough space for my children to invite their friends over, sit out by the campfire, toast marshmallows and listen to music. My dog can run and still not leave the yard.
Maybe my generation appreciates larger lot sizes, while other generations do not. Leave R-1 for people like me. For those who want smaller lots, the other residential zones have lot sizes as small as 5,000 square feet. They can live there.
Standard reporter Lisa Hobbs can be reached at 473-2191.