The travesty of teardowns
There’s a house in Forest Hill that just sold for about $4 million. No one will live in it. The buyer plans to tear it down and build something even more grand. Imagine, $4 million for a teardown. That’s more than the average Joe will earn in a lifetime of schlepping to work every day.
Even in my far less fashionable neighborhood, teardowns are going for $750,000. In their place are being erected McMansions, oversized and out-of-place-monstrosities that all but block out the sun on the street. I fought one such proposal for more than two years through three sittings of the Committee of Adjustment. At the second hearing, the garage at the rear of the lot mysteriously disappeared from the submitted plans. Density was beyond the bylaws, but not enough to matter, said the committee. But the garage remained. The third hearing was all about maintaining the garage that had previously not existed on paper. Oops, said the developer. Despite the density being more than 25 per cent over what the bylaws allowed, the Committee of Adjustment approved. In his oral comments, the chairman said, “We’re here to give relief to the rules.”
There are more teardowns under way in my block. I didn’t protest any of them. Why waste time when the official approving agency pays more attention to protecting mature trees on the lot than preserving a neighbourhood of fine family homes.
Many of my neighbours don’t mind. They believe such activity raises the value of their own houses. Meanwhile, the area has become a construction zone. If I’d wanted such surroundings, I’d be living in tract housing. There’s more to life than seeing the value of your house increase. That’ll happen over time anyway. Meanwhile, what about serenity and quality of life. I place a value on that. Don’t you?