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Michigan Study: Masonry Imparts Value In Homes And Communities

University of Michigan research has determined that masonry ordinances ensure long-term quality growth while reducing residents' overall tax burden. A

University of Michigan research has determined that masonry ordinances ensure long-term quality growth while reducing residents' overall tax burden. A study finds that adoption of masonry ordinances, i.e., local zoning requirements specifying a certain percentage of clay brick or concrete masonry as the primary exterior building material, increases community property values and contributes to continued growth, without significant increase in ownership or rental costs.

Commissioned by the Brick Industry Association (BIA) and conducted by University of Michigan's Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, the research involved comparative analysis of four Chicago suburbs to assess masonry ordinance impact on a community's housing prices and fiscal health. Because development trends in Chicago are closest to the national average, according to the study's dissimilarity index based on 1990 and 2000 census data, the study's methodology ensured that its findings are relevant nationwide.

Two communities that had a masonry ordinance in effect for 10-plus years Û Orland Park and Tinley Park Û were examined along with two suburbs Û Hoffman Estates and Streamwood Û exhibiting similar demographic, economic and housing profiles, but without an ordinance. The study looked at issues of central concern to communities considering masonry ordinances: affordability, property values, growth and taxes.

Researchers cited four primary findings:

  • Masonry ordinances do not drive up home or rental costs Û Year 2000 census data indicates that the median owner cost for households with a home mortgage in Cook County's suburbs is approximately 22.8 percent of household income. At 22.2 percent, the costs in Orland Park and Tinley Park run slightly below the average. Homeowners without a mortgage in Orland Park and Tinley Park also have lower cost burden than many neighboring communities.

    When the average rental burden was examined, researchers found the median cost of rental in Cook County's suburbs to be 24.4 percent of household income, with Orland Park and Tinley Park running slightly lower at 23.4 percent and 24.1 percent, respectively.

  • Adoption of masonry ordinances improves long-term property values for homes in a community Û Research indicated that a constant-quality residential property in Orland Park could sell for 95 percent higher than one in Streamwood, and 128 percent higher than that in Tinley Park. Compared to Hoffman Estates, Orland Park properties would sell at a 79 percent higher price, while in Tinley Park, the average selling price for property was 112 percent higher.

  • Masonry ordinances foster lasting growth Û Researchers found that Orland Park and Tinley Park continue to grow at a faster rate than comparable communities lacking masonry ordinances. From 1990 to 2000, Orland Park and Tinley Park had a population growth rate of 43 percent and 34 percent, respectively, while the median growth rate among Cook County's suburbs was 5 percent. The study's two comparable communities, Hoffman Estates and Streamwood, had growth rates of 6 percent and 17 percent, respectively, during the same time period.

  • Communities experience reduced overall tax burden Û The research found that Orland Park consistently outperforms other Cook County communities in total sales receipts, while Tinley Park continues to experience a rapid increase in sales receipt amounts. The result for residents is a reduced property tax burden.

Incorporating 25-plus years' data from the case study communities, researchers examined real estate transactions, tax records, census data, and sales receipts, with a primary focus on analyzing community changes between 1990 and the present. Notes BIA President and CEO Dick Jennison, Research shows that masonry ordinances can ensure that development supports the long-term interests of the community while addressing the interests of both its citizens and the business community.

A masonry ordinance helps communities avoid that Îurban sprawlÌ look by diversifying housing design, as it encourages long-lasting positive externalities that lead to strong growth, affirms Village of Orland Park Trustee Kathleen Fenton. Complete findings of the University of Michigan study will be available early this year. More information about the study or an Executive Summary can be obtained by visiting www.gobrick.com/planning/UM_Synopsis.html.