Teardowns Strategy Paper

Teardown Strategy Report Summary

Tearing Down the HouseReplacing obsolete housing is not a new concept. But the "teardown" trend – a community altering phenomenon that began in the 1980s and spiked through the past decade – has divided neighborhoods as older housing is replaced by new construction that is often incongruous to the established structures nearby.

Teardown proponents argue that they are regenerating the housing stock to meet the current market, and teardowns are within their rights as property owners. Teardown critics counter that the new homes often appear out of place in their neighborhood, cause stormwater problems and strain infrastructure, and damage our architectural heritage. This controversy has prompted municipalities across the region to review a spectrum of policies for addressing teardowns. The desirabilityof these policies remains heavily debated. If teardowns concern you, please review the following CMAP strategy report, which covers in greater depth the consequences and potential solutions for this contentious regional topic. Comments and criticisms are encouraged.

A sample of findings:

  • Construction and demolition is one of the largest sources of waste in the United States, totaling about 130 million tons per year, which is about 25% of all the solid waste that is discarded in the country

  • Replacing smaller homes with larger ones increases impervious surface area on the site and is often accompanied by steeper grades around the teardown property, both factors which increase a community's likelihood of flooding

  • Some communities have created Neighborhood Conservation Districts to maintain community character without the rigidity of preservation districts; other have found stormwater ordinances helpful to alleviate problems associated with the teardown phenomenon



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