In Montana, affordable housing is a growing problem. The influx of people is putting pressure on prices, and the legislature is looking at some less-common ways to help keep them in check. One idea under consideration — making small lots for developers and home builders more readily available. They’d can do that with a law that overrides local zoning codes that often sets minimum lot sizes.
The problem they’ve rightfully recognized is that land is a big part of housing prices. And the more land you force under a house through zoning laws, the more expensive the house becomes.
In Montana, the minimum lot size they’re proposing statewide is 2,500 square feet. In Minot, our zoning code has two minimum lot sizes for single family homes. In standard R1 Zones, the minimum lot size is 7,500 square feet. In R1S (zoning specifically for smaller lot sizes) the minimum size is 5,000 square feet.
Why does it matter in Minot? You may not be aware, but we’ve spent many tens of millions of dollars since the flood subsidizing affordable housing with Federal money. Maybe it’s time to take a different approach? Maybe it’s time to begin sawing from the other side of the log by getting regulations that drive up cost out of the way.
If you want to learn more about Montana’s approach the article linked below from the Montana Free Press tells more of the story.