Local News

Ordinance Could Mean Higher Prices for Some Home Buyers

Posted March 13, 1999

— A Durham zoning proposal could have a pretty hefty impact on home buyers' checkbooks -- if it becomes reality.

Trees are one of North Carolina's most precious resources. Yet they are being uprooted by the hundreds to make way for new homes.

"It's one of the things that makes our state beautiful," says environmental lawyer Jim Conner.

Conner supports a proposed zoning ordinance to save trees from bulldozers in Durham County.

"Well, you're hurting the birds and the flowers and the trees and the animals," he says.

Under the plan, developers would have to keep at least 20 percent of the trees standing on any land they develop.

"We're going to have a much nicer community," says Conner. "We're going to have a community that isn't stripped bare, and covered with asphalt and concrete. And if that costs a little bit more, then so be it."

But the president of Durham's Home Builder's Association says that little bit could amount to an extra $15,000 per house.

"It's a fact of life though, that if you're going to put a house on a lot, you have to take down trees," says Mitch Barron.

Barron says more homes can be put on property without trees. And that brings down prices. So the more trees the city demands stay up, the more money home buyers can expect to pay.

"It just takes land out of developer inventory and makes it much more costly to develop," says Barron.

But Conner disagrees.

I've seen absolutely no evidence to support that," says Conner. "I think that's a fiction, and frankly that makes me angry."


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