An added benefit stems from the fact that these design principles are applicable regardless of house type or sales price, meaning that they can be as easily used to provide starter homes for young people and other households with moderate incomes as they can for middle-aged folks and retirees with more ample means.
As used in this handbook, the term "conventionally designed subdivision" refers to residential developments where all the land is divided into houselots and streets, with the only open space typically being undevelopable wetlands, steep slopes, floodplains, and stormwater management areas. In these types of developments there are no nice places to walk, such as a central green or a wooded grove, or a riverbank or lakeshore, because all the land has been cut up and parcelled out to individual lot owners.
There are no open meadows for wildlife, or playing fields for children of any age. Because there are no community areas in which to take an evening stroll, to throw a frisbee, or have a game of catch, there are often no sidewalks, nor any informal trails. All the land has been paved over, built upon, or converted into lawns or backyards.
Except for wetlands and steep slopes, all the natural areas have been cleared, graded, and planted with grass and nonnative shrubs and trees, which offer little to any remaining wildlife. In addition to there being fewer species of plants and animals, there is typically little community life, for the public realm has been reduced to an asphalt street sys-5 tem, and even that lacks much visual appeal because in most cases no one has thought to plant shade trees at regular intervals on each side.
Without any parks, commons, or community woodlands, there are no informal places where neighbors can easily meet, engage in casual conversation, and gradually become better acquainted with each other. As a result, residents of conventional subdivisions miss a lot of social opportunities, and they depend on their cars even more to bring them into contact with other people.
Although no one ever sets out consciously to create these deficiencies, they have come about because minimal thought has been given to the results produced by basic development design standards contained in local ordinances which ask little, if anything, with respect to conserving open space or providing neighborhood amenities.
Consequently, in the vast majority of cases, little or nothing is offered along these lines, and the deficiencies are repeated time and again until, at some point, people begin to notice that they are living amidst a lot of lawns and asphalt and realize that there must be more to life than just houselots and streets. About thirty years ago, professional planners around the country touted the idea of "planned residential developments" PRDs as an improved alternative to conventional subdivisions. In PRDs, greater design flexibility is permitted by reducing standards for lot width and area, but the absence of any comprehensive standards for the quantity, quality, and configuration of open space allowed many uninspired designs to be proposed and approved.
In many PRDs minimal land is set aside as open space, and this land typically consists of unbuildable areas, stormwater basins, and relatively narrow and unusable strips of grass between parking lots, with an occasional tennis court sometimes thrown in, perhaps as an afterthought. The most notable exceptions to this pattern have been the "golf course PRDs," where it is not unusual to find more than half the dry and otherwise buildable land now hosting fairways, sand traps, and putting greens.
This specialized form of PRD offers a lot more than the opportunity to live near a golf course: to the creative observer it offers a general approach to development design that can transform ordinary PRDs and conventional subdivisions into "open space communities. In its purest form, the term "conservation subdivision design" refers to residential developments where, as in golf course communities, half or more of the buildable land area is designated as undivided, permanent open space.
This result is typically achieved in a density-neutral manner by designing residential neighborhoods more compactly, with smaller lots for narrower single-family homes, as are found in traditional villages and small towns throughout the United States.
Alternatively, the objectives can be accomplished with semi-detached or attached dwellings or by combining these two approaches. When market conditions are such that full economic return can be realized with fewer but more expensive homes, that method can also be used to preserve open space, although the smaller number of potential buyers for such upscale properties limits the applicability of that technique.
Not surprisingly, the most important step in designing a "conservation subdivision" is to identify the land that is to be preserved. This should always be the first major design step that is taken, just as in golf course developments, where the course itself is the first and foremost element to be planned. This process is described in detail in Chapter 5, but basically open space identification involves delineating both "Primary Conservation Areas" such as unbuildable wetlands, waterbodies, floodplains, and steep slopes , and "Secondary Conservation Areas" including mature woodlands, upland buffers around wetlands and waterbodies, prime farmland, natural meadows, critical wildlife habitat, and sites of historic, cultural, or archaeological significance.
After deducting unbuildable "Primary Conservation Areas" PCAs from the total parcel acreage, calculations are made to determine the number of dwellings allowed by zoning on the remaining parts of the site including the "Secondary Conservation Areas," or SCAs. That number of units is then located around—but not within—those Secondary Conservation Areas. The result is a density-neutral subdivision with significant upland open space that would normally be developed. In conservation subdivisions, up to half of the dry, buildable land maybe used for houselots and streets, and the other half must remain as undivided open space.
Of this open space, at least half should be retained as woodlands, meadows, or farm fields, while the balance may be converted to more formal, intensively managed open spaces, such as grassy commons and active recreation facilities including ballfields, tennis courts, and fairways. In other words, looking at all the buildable land on a site, at least one-quarter must remain as relatively undisturbed open space, one- quarter may be modified for active recreational purposes, and up to one-half may be developed at twice the normal density, to preserve the owner's equity.
Because hole golf courses typically consume more than a quarter of a site's developable area, and generally leave much less than a quarter of the buildable land in a relatively undisturbed state, developments featuring them are usually not considered to reflect "conservation design," where one of the primary objectives is the protection of natural areas. They are, instead, specialized forms of recreational developments, and they of course play an important role in meeting one kind of recreational need.
To the extent that many people who move into golf course communities have little or no interest in that game but are instead very interested in enjoying open space convenient to their homes, promoters of such facilities would be well advised to broaden the appeal of their developments by conserving more natural areas on their sites, such as woodland habitat and riverbanks where forest trails and waterside greenways would provide appealing opportunities for passive recreation and wildlife corridors.
It is not the purpose of this handbook to discourage further golf course developments, but rather to suggest ways in which these and other residential development forms could be significantly improved. It is obvious that there must be some limit to the number of new golf course developments that can be created before the total demand for this kind of community is satiated. The first is a GIS polygon layer which contains the proposed build-up areas where development should be restricted because the land is environmentally sensitive or ecologically significant.
The second is a text report, which contains information on whether the proposed subdivision follows the local minimum open space requirements and the extent to which it fails to protect environmentally sensitive or ecologically significant areas. Figure 2.
Site Assessment Component Sample Output. Area of open space: Area of build-up: Extension has an exceptional opportunity to assist planning-related professionals with ecological planning through the community development and natural resource protection units throughout the United States. Perhaps the most significant way in which Extension educators can assist practitioners is to familiarize them with the need for ecological planning and with tools to promote ecological planning.
Land Economics 49, 99e Health research proposal sampler. Late payment fees apply. Florida Luxury New Home Communities. Love your job. These are large-scale development projects found in suburban and exurban areas.
The tool we describe in this article is one step toward achieving that goal and can be a useful part of a local educational program. Many individuals have provided invaluable feedback on this work. We particularly thank Jim LaGro, Jack Huddleston, and staff of Waukesha County, WI, Department of Parks and Land Use for their feedback on the development of the toolkit; practitioners for their feedback and effort testing the toolkit; and Brian Ohm for his feedback on an earlier version of the manuscript.
Arendt, R. Growing greener: Putting conservation into local plans and ordinances. Washington, DC: Island Press. Brabec, E. An evaluation of the effectiveness of cluster development in the Town of Southampton, New York. Urban Ecosystems. Brander, K. Modeled impacts of development type on runoff volume and infiltration performance. Journal of the American Water Resources Association.
Planning support systems of cities and regions. Puritan Press, Hollis.
City of Olympia. Impervious surface reduction study: Final report. Esnard, A. Institutional and organizational barriers to effective use of GIS by community-based organizations.
GIS use in planning in Wisconsin's public agencies. Barriers to GIS use in planning. Journal of the American Planning Association. Lenth, B. Conservation value of clustered housing developments. Conservation Biology. Merry, K. Back to the future part I: Surveying geospatial technology needs of Georgia land use planners. Conservation subdivisions: A better way to protect water quality, retain wildlife, and preserve rural character.
Taylor, J. Preserving natural features: A GIS-based evaluation of a local open-space ordinance. Landscape and Urban Planning. Vonk, G. Bottlenecks blocking widespread usage of planning support systems. Environment and Planning A , 37 5 , Williams, E.