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Old 02-01-2013, 09:10 AM
 
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A few years ago there was quite a bit of controversy about a huge housing development that was to go into suburban Charles County MD which brought up lots of interesting discussion about urban planning, zoning and development in an environmentally sensitive area.

A number of developers wanted to create a city from scratch on over a thousand acres of mature hardwood forest, with many trees over one hundred years old. Before the development was stopped and the area turned into a park, there was some interesting perspectives on how to develop the land:

OPTION ONE: Big Lot homes where a good percent of the properties trees could be saved by the fact that the homes would only be a small part of each property. But very little open space protected because of the economics of building on big lots would not be as good for the developers so they could not afford to save much land.

OPTION TWO: Dense Development with lots of townhomes and detached homes but only on 5000 square foot lots or less. Because of the denseness of the housing, very few trees would be saved around the homes. BUT about 40 percent of the 1000 Plus acre property would be set aside for parks and open space. But there would be little grass or trees where people actually lived. No backyards to through a football around so kids would have to walk or drive to a nearby school. Little room for gardens or grass or landscaping.

OPTION Three: Mostly 1single family homes on 1/4 acre lots with some room for grass and trees in the yards but less acres devoted to open space and parks due to development economics.

What should be have done, if that development went ahead, if you were in charge?

Last edited by Old Tired Man; 02-01-2013 at 09:57 AM..
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Old 02-01-2013, 09:20 AM
 
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I like option 2. I'm sure there can be sufficient greenery in the housing area (you don't need much space to have at least some landscaping!), and the residents would benefit from the shared larger communal park/wooded space. Option 2 would also make it easier to provide other environmentally beneficial amenities such as bus service.
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Old 02-01-2013, 07:39 PM
 
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Option 2 sounds like the best. But option 1 has the best chance of getting approved by zoning boards. Reason: Fewer homes mean fewer children in the school system. Yet the property owners would pay much higher taxes. If it is zoned so each homesite requires $300,000 worth of land, the buyers will feel compelled to put million dollar minimum houses on them. Furthermore, require all homes to have fire sprinklers to curry favor with the fire department.
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Old 02-01-2013, 08:34 PM
 
Location: Southern California
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Option 2 and 3.

Integrate a mix of house product and preserve (set aside) land on the property as protected open/park space.

[and make the open/park space permanently protected]
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Old 02-01-2013, 10:12 PM
 
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I don't think option 2 would make much economic sense. People tend to want to live in denser developments so they can be close to all the amenities of a city. Building a dense development in the middle of a forest, an hour away from dc would not be very popular in my opinion. You get the negatives from both urban and suburban living but none of the benefits. There's very little room to raise a family, or have extra space, and its an hour away from all the activities in the city.

I would go mostly with option 1. I'm sure there are a lot of people in DC who would be willing to pay a premium for a large house/yard in a beautiful wooded area. Charles county has the 11th highest income in the country, so i'm betting it would be very easy to sell these kind of homes. Also most of the trees could be saved because i'm sure most of the home owners would like to keep the beautiful scenery for the most part intact.
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Old 02-01-2013, 11:06 PM
 
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I like opiton 2 with a few vital considerations.
Integrate the large wooded old growth forest to retain the most diverse ecological elements (protect it from ever being developed as MIKEETC mentioned) , build the new construction to fit the context of say, an old style village, canal town etc... and market it NOT by having the largest units allowed but highest quality slightly above above average on space per unit as people are migrating away from excessive space and rather better designed higher utilized space (think Sarah Susanka's, The Not So Big House concept, with mixture of housing types with privacy sensitive designed density.

I'm thinking (depending on context of neighboring cities development) about 4500-5000 units on 400 of the 1000 acres. Some single fam with granny flats, a few mid rise multi family tucked fairly close to a town center and variety of townhomes w vertical orientation (small footprint etc...). I'm picturing a population of 7000-7500 in a highly desired healthy lifestyle oriented development woven into the existing environment.
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Old 02-01-2013, 11:22 PM
 
134 posts, read 162,214 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ciceropolo View Post
I like opiton 2 with a few vital considerations.
Integrate the large wooded old growth forest to retain the most diverse ecological elements (protect it from ever being developed as MIKEETC mentioned) , build the new construction to fit the context of say, an old style village, canal town etc... and market it NOT by having the largest units allowed but highest quality slightly above above average on space per unit as people are migrating away from excessive space and rather better designed higher utilized space (think Sarah Susanka's, The Not So Big House concept, with mixture of housing types with privacy sensitive designed density.

I'm thinking (depending on context of neighboring cities development) about 4500-5000 units on 400 of the 1000 acres. Some single fam with granny flats, a few mid rise multi family tucked fairly close to a town center and variety of townhomes w vertical orientation (small footprint etc...). I'm picturing a population of 7000-7500 in a highly desired healthy lifestyle oriented development woven into the existing environment.
I completely agree with this. In my opinion, the best option would definitely be a small, dense town that takes up not all that much space. It's just important that there's the right balance of enough amenities to attract density and enough density to support amenities.
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Old 02-01-2013, 11:24 PM
 
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Ciceropolo's approach makes sense to me. I would guess that in Maryland not everybody is going to demand the maximum sized lots I'd add that with Option 2 you can retain habitat of useful size, especially for plants and small animals. You can also probably create some wildlife corridors. This would help it get through environmental reviews.

Option 2 would be best for transit access. But in any of those options, there should be good circulation for transit, bikes, and pedestrians. Starting from scratch on a site that bike there's the possibility to do it right.
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Old 02-02-2013, 09:19 AM
Status: "Summer!" (set 20 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
87,008 posts, read 102,606,536 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MIKEETC View Post
Option 2 and 3.

Integrate a mix of house product and preserve (set aside) land on the property as protected open/park space.

[and make the open/park space permanently protected]
I agree with this approach.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlite View Post
Ciceropolo's approach makes sense to me. I would guess that in Maryland not everybody is going to demand the maximum sized lots I'd add that with Option 2 you can retain habitat of useful size, especially for plants and small animals. You can also probably create some wildlife corridors. This would help it get through environmental reviews.

Option 2 would be best for transit access. But in any of those options, there should be good circulation for transit, bikes, and pedestrians. Starting from scratch on a site that bike there's the possibility to do it right.
Having long time friends in that area, I can tell you, a big yard is important to many people there; the bigger the better.
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Old 02-02-2013, 09:20 AM
Status: "Summer!" (set 20 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
87,008 posts, read 102,606,536 times
Reputation: 33064
Quote:
Originally Posted by ciceropolo View Post
I like opiton 2 with a few vital considerations.
Integrate the large wooded old growth forest to retain the most diverse ecological elements (protect it from ever being developed as MIKEETC mentioned) , build the new construction to fit the context of say, an old style village, canal town etc... and market it NOT by having the largest units allowed but highest quality slightly above above average on space per unit as people are migrating away from excessive space and rather better designed higher utilized space (think Sarah Susanka's, The Not So Big House concept, with mixture of housing types with privacy sensitive designed density.

I'm thinking (depending on context of neighboring cities development) about 4500-5000 units on 400 of the 1000 acres. Some single fam with granny flats, a few mid rise multi family tucked fairly close to a town center and variety of townhomes w vertical orientation (small footprint etc...). I'm picturing a population of 7000-7500 in a highly desired healthy lifestyle oriented development woven into the existing environment.
10+ units per acre is extremely dense.
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