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    Cluster development

    Does anyone have experience with cluster development for green space preservation? My personal feeling is that this type of development would lend itself to preservation but at the price of small, insular neighborhoods with little or no interaction with the city as a whole. We are a small, very rural town and I was just wondering how this might fit into our plans.

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    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Cluster development is largely a rural preservation too. It is an ideal alternative to large lot rural estates, used to preserve agricultural or conservancy lands, and to reduce infrastructure/service costs. In most cases, it is not suited to urban sites.
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    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    Two resources to look at are the books "Rural by Design" (can't remember who wrote it)and for Lane Kendig's book on "Performance Planning/Zoning (can't remember its name)".
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    Cyburbian PlannerByDay's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by donk
    Two resources to look at are the books "Rural by Design" (can't remember who wrote it)
    Randall Arendt worte it.

    Also if you are doing site plan review for open space devleopment, proper placement of the open space is important, when possible see if the open space can be adjacent to or along a natural corridor linking up to other open spaces. This will allow for trail/foot path linkages to other areas and create a better environment for wildlife.

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    Cyburbian Plus
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    Quote Originally posted by donk
    ... "Rural by Design" (can't remember who wrote it)...
    "Rural by Design" is by Randall G. Arendt

    His website: http://www.greenerprospects.com/
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    Cyburbian Breed's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by nighthawk1959
    Does anyone have experience with cluster development for green space preservation? My personal feeling is that this type of development would lend itself to preservation but at the price of small, insular neighborhoods with little or no interaction with the city as a whole. We are a small, very rural town and I was just wondering how this might fit into our plans.
    In our small, rural town, we modified our cluster ordinance a little bit. While we recognize the need to conserve open space, we noticed that the cluster ordinance in the county really doesn't do a good job, so we increased the open space requirement... but as a compromise, we provided the developer with a partial credit for including community amenities (some developers claimed that a higher open space requirement would force them to choose between adding open space and adding community amenities.)
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    I prefer to call it open space development or conservation subdivision, but I have done a lot of work on "clustering." How you set it up has to reflect on the place, or it won't be used. I would be cautious if what you are trying to do is provide for the expansion of a pretty coherent small town with an established grid or quasi-grid street system. In that case it may be better to use dedication and/or impact fees to just buy some neighborhood park space as development occurs. If you have areas where you need to work around natural features like slopes or wetlands, or around the edges of working farms, you might allow clustering to modify the grid to protect those spaces, but I would not sacrifice the connectivity within the town. We have mandatory conservation subdivision here now, but we still require that there be either street or trail connections, or ideally both, to keep the clusters from being isolated from the rest of the community. I also caution against open space for the sake of open space. If you can't identify a function for the space you are protecting (wetland, scenic, farm, wildlife, etc.) then there's no need to keep it open.

  8. #8
    Good points ,all. Thanks. Even with the death of agriculture as a viable way of earning a living in this area, we still have a consideral amount of farming taking place. The use of open space as a lease to ag production could make it more feasible to homeowners as the income from the lease would at least partialy pay the taxes on these portions. My main concern was the insular nature of these decelopments. Highway access as well as connectivity between deelopments is a concern to me.

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    Cyburbian
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    Another thing to watch out for is the use of a "cluster plan" as a way to reduce lot size and cram larger houses onto smaller lots. We require a 1:1 compensation of open space for lot size lost, and also look at where and how the open space is being placed, to make sure they aren't just using areas that aren't buildable anyway, like swales, as common area. The extra open area has to be an actual, environmental feature or amenity, not just a retention pond or something that would have to be constructed anyway, to justify smaller lot sizes. And it has to be connected with the rest of the development, but in a way that will minimize impact. They can definitely work, it just depends on how they're done.
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