City leaders did the right thing this week in making the zoning changes needed to allow smaller, more efficient dwellings, and should also allow the Habitat for Humanity project proposed for Talbot Avenue.

Opponents should not continue to fight this needed change.

We are not deaf to the outcry from residents opposed to these projects. We appreciate citizens being active in talking to their government and sending in letters to the editor.

However, there is little potential downside for the community allowing 425-square-foot detached living units citywide and the 500-square-foot housing units on Talbot Avenue.

Increased efficiency is something we should strive for to protect the environment. In addition, these proposals would create more affordable housing for those in our community who need it. This will allow more young people to come here and establish themselves as part of the community.

We do not believe this zoning change would see the city overrun with so-called “tiny houses” or create some kind of "shanty town." Indeed, we have seen this is true in looking at how this has gone in other communities.

Habitat for Humanity’s plan would mean building eight one-bedroom residences that will each be 500 square feet; three duplexes that will each have a one-bedroom (1,000 square-foot) and a three-bedroom (1,200-square foot) rental residence; and five single-family homes each ranging in size from 1,000 to 1,500-square feet.

In addition, there will be common green space for gardens, a playground and gazebo.

Those who are fortunate should be willing to allow, on property they do not own, housing projects to help those in need. Given the chance, we believe in years to come citizens will find the residents of these Habitat for Humanity houses will make good neighbors. This is an example of giving someone a hand up, not a hand out.

We do not believe the projects will damage the value of nearby historic residences or create any more drainage and water problems than we see from any other residential development.

More generally, accessory dwellings and small homes have become sort of bogeyman that opponents argue will bring down property values and change the character of the community.

These dwellings are not really a new idea. For many years, this kind of construction has provided a place for aging relatives or for adult children returning from college (often struggling under crushing debt).

We agree that any new development of this kind should be limited or restricted from becoming short-term rentals. The council has wisely enacted strong ordinances to deal effectively and fairly with these rentals, and should continue to create reasonable limits.

Long-term rentals, however, are desperately needed.

We are encouraged by the hope of affordable, environmentally friendly housing for working families and residents in the city.

This Day in History: Fukushima nuclear disaster reports: “On March 11, 2011, the largest earthquake ever recorded in Japan causes massive devastation, and the ensuing tsunami decimates the Tōhoku region of northeastern Honshu. On top of the already-horrific destruction and loss of life, the natural disaster also gives rise to a nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The Fukushima disaster is considered the second-worst nuclear disaster in history, forcing the relocation of over 100,000 people.

“…Reactors 1 and 3 exploded on March 12 and 14, respectively, prompting the government to evacuate everyone within a 20km radius. Another explosion in the building housing Reactor 2 on March 15 released even more radiation, and thousands of people left their homes as workers used helicopters, water cannons and seawater pumps to try to cool the overheating facility.”

The Chernobyl disaster in 1986 remains the worst nuclear catastrophe in history.