County mulls help for builders by downsizing required house size

Tue, 04/08/2008 - 4:31pm
By: John Thompson

County mulls help for builders

Don’t tell Rod Wright that one man can’t make a difference in local government.

Wright, who is president of Peach State Land Development, appeared before the Fayette County Commission in March with an unusual request.

Wright, who is developing the only estate residential subdivision in the county under estate-conservation zoning classification, wanted the county to study decreasing the minimum home size from 3,000 square feet to down to a more manageable 2,200-2,300 square feet.

“That size home is just not selling,” said Wright.

Wright’s development is Chantilly, which is located near Lake Horton on Ga. Highway 92 South.

Wright took his request before the Planning Commission and his request was also heard by the Fayette County Commission last Wednesday.

“The consensus of the board seems to be to lower the square footage,” said interim County Administrator Jack Krakeel.

If the board lowers the requirement, Wright said the change could help spur the economy in this period of downturn.

“I just think that everybody needs to pitch in and help everyone get through this,” he said.

Wright’s request would not change the minimum lot size nor increase the number of homes allowed in the estate zoning category.

Basically, the change would result in a smaller house on a still-large lot.

Wright currently has three homes nearly finished in Chantilly and is planning an open house later this month and in April. He has talked to some of the county’s developers who say this crunch isn’t as bad as the late 1970s, and Wright is optimistic that the market will turn around soon. His idea of everybody working together is backed up by the subcontractors who are helping him build the homes.

“They are all contributing money towards advertising the open house to help try and turn this economy around,” he said.

Wright’s homes in Chantilly are priced just under $400,000, and there will only be 31 lots on a 200-acre tract. Wright started building homes over a decade ago in Brooks, and has weathered a few storms, but is encouraged the government is starting to see the problem.

“We just all need to come together to work this out,” Wright said.

login to post comments

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
The Wedge's picture
Submitted by The Wedge on Thu, 04/10/2008 - 11:41am.

Many comments seem to be anti-smaller houses. Don't you think that a 3,000 square foot house for a typical family of 4 seems overly large? Square footages do not take into account basement spaces or usable attic spaces. From the 1950's, the typical US house has doubled in square footage and now stands around 2,350 square feet. Do we really need every house to be a McMansion? Drive around that famous county to the north of us. The bane of that county is apartment complexes and other high density buildings. Do you want to keep the nature and density of our county roughly the same? Then ensure that lot size and zoning does not change. Do not add high density housing and we should be okay

mudcat's picture
Submitted by mudcat on Wed, 04/09/2008 - 7:04pm.

Read this

“The consensus of the board seems to be to lower the square footage,” said interim County Administrator Jack Krakeel."

Again, are you kidding me? Hit the road Jack before the door hits you in the butt. Try and remember you are a civil servant and work for the taxpayers. That's right - taxpayers. The same ones who will have their property devalued by your builder welfare scheme. Idiot.

Then after you devalue property and diminish tax revenue, you will come back and increase taxes on the rest of us. Go away quickly or else I'll fire up my buddies - the non-friends of Barry Amos.

Voice of Fayette Future's picture
Submitted by Voice of Fayett... on Wed, 04/09/2008 - 7:55pm.

Yup...builder welfare, you said it right. That's what Chamber Jack will see to.

Submitted by smoke20 on Wed, 04/09/2008 - 8:02am.

You make the choice to go and buy up all of this land, because money is good and you are sitting pretty in that nice new 12,000 plus square foot house, probably more like 18,000 plus. Now because the market has hit the tank, you want help. What about all of the people losing real jobs. People who need the work to pay for their little 1800 sq foot houses. DEAL WITH IT AND GET TO WORK. You need to quit depending on others to get you out of your own trouble. I mean you want to have your cake and eat it too. As soon as you get your way there, you will be all over those new home owners trying to control everything they do. SUCK IT UP!!!!!!!!!!!!

Submitted by swmbo on Tue, 04/08/2008 - 10:40pm.

Oh, so, even if the building's the size of an outhouse, a 5-acre lot makes it a great idea??! If the county commission agrees to this, the character of this county will quickly slide into the outhouse. And why should the county government help out a private developer to build on the cheap? After all, isn't this the same bunch of commissioners that just love to talk about how "wealthy" this county is? Isn't Wright's bad timing his problem? Building a bunch of cheap cracker boxes only lowers the value of the surrounding larger homes.

Folks, unless you want to end up with Fayette's version of Gwinnett county, you'd better go to the commission meeting and oppose this.

Oh, and, by the way, am I the only person who is starting to suspect Krakeel is the new "Sixth Commissioner"? He sure seems to hold a lot of power for someone nobody elected.

If you and I are always in agreement, one of us is likely armed and dangerous.

Submitted by Spyglass on Tue, 04/08/2008 - 9:34pm.

Time for you to move on in my very humble opinion. You can find property in Henry or Coweta to build your row houses on.

Robert W. Morgan's picture
Submitted by Robert W. Morgan on Tue, 04/08/2008 - 8:05pm.

Or any other way, now that I think about it. The square footage is there to preserve value for the homeowners. Builders can't change it because of their bottom line or the recession - yes we are in one.

This is very wrong because it sets a precedence that is not healthy.

Having said that, reducing square footage on estate lots is not a serious problem in and of itself - it is only a problem when the builders under pressure in other areas with many more residents and less density try to do the same thing.

Submitted by PTC Avenger on Tue, 04/08/2008 - 7:31pm.

“I just think that everybody needs to pitch in and help everyone get through this,” he said.

I have news for you, the only thing that's going to correct this housing crisis is a return to true market dictated prices, in other words get ready to see severe drops in your home value (perhaps 30-35%). This won't be a completely bad thing, for example we'll have a normal housing price to income ratio: no more than 2.5x the median housing income for a starter home, as opposed to the massively inflated bubble prices we're used to seeing.

“They are all contributing money towards advertising the open house to help try and turn this economy around,” he said.

The economy isn't going to turn around anytime soon. There's more to the crisis than what the major news outlets are reporting, perhaps because if people knew the true gravity they're facing they would PANIC. Do you think the average person has any idea how close we came to a complete and utter meltdown last month when the Fed bailed out Bear Stearns, the nation's 5th largest investment house? If they didn't bail them out and they went insolvent we would've seen repercussions that would have been "severe and extremely difficult to contain," according to Bernanke.

Anyway, my point is this: To suppose that easing building requirements will somehow magically fix a failing debt-based economy is misguided wishful thinking bordering on madness. Not to mention, it opens the door for destroying the fabric of our community, but that's a whole different issue.

River's picture
Submitted by River on Tue, 04/08/2008 - 8:20pm.

PTC Avenger, your comments sound strongly like the points made in that "Money as Debt" video I previously mentioned. In particular, the fact that our economy is mostly debt-based. Is that a coincidence, or have you seen the video?

(If anybody is curious, just Google the title: "Money as Debt")

I agree with you--I don't think the average person has any idea how close we came to a 1929-type crash last month. And we are not out of the woods yet. But people don't want to hear the truth anymore, they just want to hear their own opinions validated.

I'm not sure we need to abandon the "debt-based" economy just yet, but we certainly need to tighten our belts and get back to basics.

Richard Hobbs's picture
Submitted by Richard Hobbs on Tue, 04/08/2008 - 6:04pm.

Sure, its hard selling those expensive, high square footage size homes. So lets lower them to 2200 s.q..

Those are hard to sell too? Well lets lower it down to 1800 s.q.

What? The sub-prime market is down?

Okay, lets do 1100 s.q. homes and heck while we are at it, we can open a few more mobile home parks.

And oh yeah, some people can't afford a real mobile home, so lets set up lots for campers too.

I'm sure if we lower the size of the lots to fit the needs of the construction companies, that we are serving the needs of Fayette County.

Now lets see. 1 home per 5 acres equals 2.5 more kids in our schools and 2 more cars on our roads.
2 homes on a 5 acre lot, means 5 more kids and 4 more cars.
Oh, but what the heck, the construction companies need the work.
Besides, look at all of the work that we will have to go around. Someone to build new roads, new traffic lights, new pawn shops and gas stations, and new schools too. A heavenly paradise?

Lets just subdivide the entire county into 1/4 acre lots. Put a travel trailer on them all and then we are done worrying about maintaining a quality of life, because it will be gone.

We have these restrictions, not to hurt the builders, but to help our quality of life. Those restrictions is what brings people here to buy the big homes, and if you lower the quality of life, then you lower the people who will come and buy here.

Gees, who is in charge over there?

yardman5508's picture
Submitted by yardman5508 on Tue, 04/08/2008 - 7:39pm.

Gees, who is in charge over there?

You have to ask that? As if we don't know that the developers are firmly in control? Keep the faith.

Democracy is not a spectator sport.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.