The Hartford Zoning Board of Appeals must be living in the ’60s – the 1860s. It seems that these throwbacks have required some of the people who live in and own a house on upscale Scarborough Street to move out or sell. The Hartford Courant reports that the decision came about because the place houses more than two adult residents not related by “blood, marriage, civil union or adoption.”
I’m not sure where Hartford got its definition of “family.” At the risk of losing my credentials as a journalist, The American Heritage Dictionary defines the word as “the most instinctive, fundamental social or mating group in man [sic] and animal …” I suspect the Hartford problem lies in the “mating” part. I don’t see why we can’t compare ourselves to the residential clusters of other primates, of felines, and so forth.
The article doesn’t give the history of the code, which allows unlimited unrelated numbers of residents as long as they are servants. We all have live-in maids, butlers, cooks, chauffeurs, sculleries, and washerwomen right? I’m betting this piece of restriction came about circa 1965 because neighbors didn’t want the great unwashed of hippiedom moving living next door, or across the street, in the case of Jack Kennelly.
The Scarborough Eleven look like they should be appearing in Leave It To Beaver, not Hair. The adults are mostly educators who have considered their situation for a number of years, and made a thoughtful decision.
Their lawyer argues that the ZBA’s decision and the city code are unconstitutional. That would be a violation of the Fourth Amendment right to be “secure against … unreasonable searches and seizures” and Article First of the Connecticut constitution’s Declaration of Rights.
The operative word here is “unreasonable.” Is it reasonable to require the Scarborough Eleven to break up their household or worse yet, break up the building and rent out separate units, which I’m sure the ZBA would also forbid?
An argument can be made that the code and the ZBA may also be in violation of the First Amendment’s prohibition against “the right of the people peaceably to assemble,” which is also a provision of the Connecticut constitution.
The Scarborough Eleven look like proto cohousing unit. It “is a type of intentional, collaborative housing in which residents actively participate in the design and operation of their neighborhoods. Cohousing provides the privacy we are accustomed to within the community we seek.” Wish there was a house in my neighborhood that could accommodate this family.
Why doesn’t the ZBA redirect its efforts to helping find housing for the homeless instead of meddling in the lives of thoughtful and contributing members of society?