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Thread: The appeal of bowling alley lots and strip residential development

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    The appeal of bowling alley lots and strip residential development

    I'm tallying resident surveys for a comprehensive plan that I'm working on.

    One of the questions I ask is to score what type of residential development people find most appealing, with one being "exurban strip - deep but very narrow lots". An aerial photo showing an example of this type of development accompanies the question.

    So far, it's scoring the highest.

    This is a community that is deeply concerned over losing its rural character, but along every road, land is subdivided into strips that are about 100' to 200' wide, and 500' to 1000' deep, if not more. Driving along these roads, the landscape is the same as along most suburban streets; house after house after house, with very little sign of agriculture or open space from the roads. The narrow lots put houses close together, so the privacy and open space people normally seek in rural settings isn't there.

    What is the appeal of bowling alley lots for those that live on them? Is it "nobody will ever build behind me," even though there's houses close to the sides and rear? Is it something else?

    BTW, want to know what's scoring at the bottom so far? Examples of New Urbanist development.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    I suspect it has less to do with the current owners and more to do with the original subdivision of farmland to residential land. A lot of land in upstate NY was divided by retiring farmers who tried to get the most $$$ for their land by selling it off as house lots. Prior to the 1970s, many of these country lots were only a half to 2 acres, but since about the 1970s, when many counties started requiring sewage and water plans for subdivisions of less than 5 acres, most subdivisions have been 5+ acres. The best way to do that is to divide the land into narrow strips (about 1 acre wide and 5 acres deep). To town and city people used to homes on 50 foot lots, a 200 foot wide lot looks spacious, especially when there aren't any houses on any of it yet.

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    Cyburbian Random Traffic Guy's avatar
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    Wow, when I was househunting I looked at an acre lot that was narrow and long, I could have gotten a 100 yard range in the back yard... 1000' would allow 300 yards, that would be awesome.
    (shooting, archery, javelin, or golf, your choice of interpretation )

    As for the appeal, perhaps the appeal is having at least one dimension that is very long. 5 acres would be only 450' square, while 200'x1000' might be more attractive. From the developer's point of view the narrow lots with houses at one end will cut down on costs for driveway paving, utility connections, etc.

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    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    I have often wondered the same thing. Growing up in rural northern Michigan, this form of development is quite common. I am especially preplexed when you have these types of lots but there is no tree cover or anything. Basically, just a long narrow parcel carved out of the side of a field.

    If I was willing to live in the countryside, I would not want this type of quite narrow subdividing. I would want at least several 100 feet between me and my neighbors. Better yet, just buy an old farm and put my house smck dab in the middle.

    But I guess I will never have to worry about this because any rural land I ever buy (I prefer living in the "city") would be heavily wooded with only a small building and in the middle of nowhere.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

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    Cyburbian ABS's avatar
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    IN the city that I work there are a large number of of streets that meet your description. Narrow frontages down to 20 metres and 100 to 300 metres deep. Most of these sites are floood constrained and the developer would have originally wanted to maximise the yield above the flood line. The disadvantage is that on lots that are not flood constrained it results in a large number of rear access lots.
    Great mindless think alike.

    Planning my way out of wet paper bag since 2003

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Bump: a terrific definition from Sligo County Council, Ireland.

    Ribbon development means frontage development along a road where there is no tandem development in the backlands. It is undesirable because it creates numerous accesses onto traffic routes, sterilises backlands, landlocks farmland, creates servicing problems (such as water supply, drainage, foot-paths and street lighting etc.) and intrudes on public views of the rural setting.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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