Stickley on Craigslist, August 2007
John Hudson Thomas

McMansions bring tensions to old neighborhoods

A good article by Kytja Weir in last week's Charlotte Observer, on the constant butting of heads between historic preservationists who look at a neighborhood as an organic whole and selfish me-firsters who want the freedom to do whatever they want with their own property, damn the neighbors and everyone else. Gee, can you tell which camp I fit into? An excerpt:

Tim Griffin, the association president, had invited builders, architects and others, trying to inspire his neighbors about how to renovate their homes without changing the feel of the newly popular neighborhood.

"I'm just so adamant about no more McMansions," he said.

But he knows his neighborhood has no power to restrict renovations. "We're not a homeowners' association. We're not a historic district. So the next best thing is to educate."

The neighborhood of small homes, many dating from the 1930s, is starting to feel a tension already experienced in Charlotte's older neighborhoods around uptown such as Dilworth, Myers Park, Elizabeth, Plaza-Midwood and Wesley Heights as people with bigger tastes move in.

Today Americans seek more space than their parents. In new developments bigger homes can be built without hindrances.

But the desire for more space creates a tension in some older neighborhoods, built for the needs of the past. Neighbors there find themselves walking a line between preserving the past and maintaining property rights, promoting growth yet controlling how it takes shape.