Deanne mentioned in a comment a couple days ago that Decatur has a 1,500 square foot MINIMUM floor area requirements for single-family dwellings on the books.
I was shocked and awed.
Decatur, home of pedicabs and solar-powered air-conditioning Prius units, requires that you build a house that’s at least 1,500 square feet?? (I bet I’m not the only one with a house – older than the law presumably – that doesn’t currently meet this requirement.)
Diane subsequently sent me a summary of the requirement and it reads like this…
III. Floor Area Limits Related to Lot Size
The current definition of “floor area” for a residential building for the City of Decatur is as follows:
The gross horizontal areas of the several floors of a dwelling, exclusive of garages, cellars, and open porches, measured from the exterior faces of the exterior walls of a dwelling.
Presently, there are minimum floor area requirements for single-family dwellings:
R-60: 1,500 square feet
R-85: 1,800 square feet
Scott subsequently hypothesized in the same thread that the requirement is a remnant of the 1950s-1960s when the city was trying to guarantee “suburban family development of the day”.
So OK, I understand that Decatur is one of the densest cities in the state and that infill development these days is quite rare. I also understand that many people don’t give a flip about limits on minimum square footage as they do about limits on MAX square footage. Regardless, if we’re actually into “walkability” and being “green” and “sustainable”, shouldn’t we remove this antiquated law from the books so people who may want to downsize – in a very REAL sense of the word – can do so?
What would Sarah Susanka say?