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Thread: Wishing for a way to protect urban growth boundaries

  1. #1
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    Wishing for a way to protect urban growth boundaries

    I am from South Bend Indiana. The agricultural zoning was supposed to require 20 acres per house to protect the agricultural community. Now developers are grabbing up farmland at low prices and trying to fill it with crackerbox houses on postage stamp lots. The Area Plan ADVISES against it, but has no authority. The County Council decides on a roll of the political dice. What can I do??? Help???

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    You might look at this thread about open space for starters. Requiring large lots doesn't necessarily protect farmland or open space. Sometimes all it does is promote estates for the wealthy. If I recall correctly, Apple Valley California requires 5 acre lots but the result has not been to protect rural character or farmland. Instead, it is an enclave for the rich. I have driven through there and it is just one mansion after another, on nice large lots. And housing there is much more expensive than in Victorville, a town which is smack up against it.

    I don't have a link but I know I have seen somewhere online ideas about promoting denser development along the fringe combined with a policy to leave a set amount of land open so that you don't get the above results.

    PS -- Cyburbia tends to be slow over the weekend. I imagine more folks will start chiming in on Monday or Tuesday. If no one does, it might help to give a few more details about who you are and about the situation you wish to address.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Yeah! what MZ said.....
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  4. #4
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    You need more than an area plan (which, as you mentioned, only recommends certain actions). You need a sector plan (or whatever they call it there) that specifically outlines these issues and is adopted by the municipality and enforcible. Sometimes, if the situation is dire enough for area residents, you can get the city council to establish up to a 6 month moratorium while a plan is drafted. This stops all development for that period of time.

    The region should have an interest in protecting this land, regardless of its current use, as a "quasi-public resource." (the quasi being because it is privately owned). This land is critical to ensuring regional food security - once you develop it, you will never get it back. This is why they have green belts in Europe and why the US subsidizes farmers so heavily (they want them to keep the land for agricultural use). You never know what will happen in the future and food security used ot be of more importance to governments, particularly after the Depression and WWII.

    There are other strategies that can be used, though. Land Trusts (and there are many many all throughout the US - try the American Farmland Trust for starters) and Transfer od Development Rights (TDR's where the owner sells the right to develop their land and sends it to another area designated for higher density) are good places to start.

    We have the same situation south of Albuquerque and the farmers there are very interested in (and pursuing) a land trust structure. The land is sold to the trust which ensures that it will never be developed. The farmers can keep using the land so long as they desire. If they sell, the new owner must farm it (or at least not develop it).

    good luck!

  5. #5
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Wishin
    Now developers are grabbing up farmland at low prices and trying to fill it with crackerbox houses on postage stamp lots. The Area Plan ADVISES against it, but has no authority. The County Council decides on a roll of the political dice. What can I do??? Help???
    Check your state statutes and case law to see if the County Council actions are required to be consistant with the Area Plan.

    If there is no consistancy requirement, your only recourse will likely be at the polls next time the Council members are up for re-election.
    All these years the people said he’s actin’ like a kid.
    He did not know he could not fly, so he did.
    - - Guy Clark, "The Cape"

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