Should the city allow new housing units to have enclosed porches?
In case you are wondering, this is actually a hot-button issue in the city council.
A proposal, which seemingly came out of nowhere, would no longer require new housing units keep their front porches open. Apparently, there are some in the community who have the necessity to close off their porches – perhaps as a way to create an additional room.
It may seem silly to argue over whether to allow homeowners to take this extra step, but there is something important at stake.
Hamtramck’s housing design is not by accident. The houses are built up close to the sidewalk with open porches. The openness allows for more neighborly interaction, and it’s a way for a block of people to bond.
People are out on the porches looking after one another’s children, and also keeping an eye out for trouble.
Open porches also aid police and firefighters in doing their jobs.
Closing off porches creates a fortress-like mentality. People will hunker in and have little interaction with their neighbors.
Enclosed porches would also block the sight lines for the entire block.
Those seeking to enclose their porches claim that it’s for privacy and security. There is also the argument that a homeowner should have a right to decide what to do with their own house.
That’s not true, though. There are plenty of zoning rules and regulations regarding the design and materials used in constructing a new house.
Keeping open porches is one of them. For years, no one has had an issue with this concept, but now, suddenly, is has taken on an importance – at least for some in the community.
The city councilmembers are currently considering the issue, and after a lengthy discussion at last week’s meeting, they wisely decided to hold off on making a decision.
There are just too many unknowns with this issue.
Hamtramck’s open porches are a part of the fabric of what makes this city so people-friendly.
Let’s keep it that way.
Posted Dec. 4, 2020