Monday, November 14, 2005

Upcoming Law Review article that discusses Ave Maria Town issues

I have to put out a disclaimer for the following post: I don't quite see how the Law Review author connects the following issues, but he does, and since Ave Maria Town is involved, I thought it was relevant to this blog.

The original post can be found here.

Here is the law professor's article, with the relevant excerpts to Ave Maria below:

The residential golf course is not the only possible manifestation of the exclusionary amenities strategy. On the contrary, real estate developers seeking to create a "Catholic Gated Community" have noticed how placing a new Catholic school – Ave Maria University – at the center of their planned residential community can help promote the overwhelmingly Catholic character of their new development.88 Virginia real estate developers interested in minimizing the number of families with school-aged children in their condominium building invested heavily in an attractive bar and billiards room, but consciously avoided putting a playroom anywhere in the structure.89 And, by the same token, many communities forego investing in public transportation hubs or basketball courts that their residents would very much like to use, because of a fear that such inclusionary amenities might attract the wrong kinds of people to the community.90

It is an expensive proposition, of course, to construct a golf course or religious university at the center of a residential development. So why would someone seeking to achieve residential homogeneity go to all that trouble? Precisely because an exclusionary amenities strategy may prove more effective than exclusionary vibes alone. After all, an exclusionary amenity may be as successful in establishing a focal point as an exclusionary vibe, allowing people with similar preferences or attributes to find each other and live as neighbors. And the exclusionary amenity will provide added punch: a tax that falls most heavily on people who lack those similar preferences or attributes. So, let us assume that the Ave Maria Township residents subsidize the adjacent university by picking up the costs of its police protection, utilities, and land acquisition costs. As a result, homeowners in Ave Maria Township will face higher monthly assessments than homeowners in a neighboring homeowners association that is not affiliated with an institution of higher learning. A devout, traditionalist Catholic homeowner might be happy to pay this extra assessment, perhaps because he plans to make use of the theological books in the university’s library and values proximity to it, or because he wants to live near the sorts of neighbors who would value proximity to such a library. But a non-Catholic Ave Maria homeowner who did not particularly want to live in an overwhelmingly Catholic neighborhood would get nothing of value in exchange for his higher monthly assessment: He would not use the library himself, and would not particularly care about whether his neighbors used the library or not. If there are otherwise similar neighborhoods surrounding Ave Maria, we should expect to see Ave Maria Township take on an overwhelmingly Catholic character and other neighborhoods take on a relatively non-Catholic character. The result will be religious residential segregation, achieved with no overt discrimination and an advertising campaign that need not include blatant exclusionary vibes. The differential tax on non-Catholic homeowners in Ave Maria will serve the same focal points purpose as the exclusionary vibe, and will further exclude third parties who might have been impervious to, or oblivious of, exclusionary vibes. Furthermore, unlike a one-time advertising campaign, the presence of the university will directly affect the purchasing decisions of several generations of owners.


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