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Thread: Strategy to promote cluster development

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Strategy to promote cluster development

    I am working on a plan for an 800-acre site. The overall intent is a conservation development. We have about 150 acres of land designated for lower-density development (1.5 units per acre). There are many good reasons for the designation, including the presence of wetlands, transition to agricultural lands, diversity of housing, and soil types. The community is willing to accept standard development patterns, but would like to encourage developers to consider cluster subdivision as an alternative. One strategy may be to write the design guidelines in a way that pushes people in that direction. My thought would be to require a minimum 5000 square foot lot, but to also have a minimum 15,000 square foot open space requirement. Open space held in common could be counted toward this requirement. The concept would be that if a developer wanted a typical subdivision teh cost of infrastructure to serve 1/3-acre or larger lots would be significantly more than what would be required to serve 5000 square foot lots in a cluster. Am I crazy? Anybody have other thoughts on how I might make it easier to develop a cluster rather than traditional subdivisions (without explicitely requiring it)?
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  2. #2
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    when you get the Holy Grail of cluster (no pun intended) let me know

    I am in the midst of evaluating my PUD with some developers who wouldn't take the time to work with me when I was writing it - so my first advice is to get them involved now with you - work with the owner of that 800 acre parcel

    what they are telling me here is that the density isn't there enough for them to make any money - they feel they make more money carving out lots than seeking a specialty market of people that want to live in a clustered development so in order to get the same 100% return they want to get, they need to put more units in

    our lot area calculation that determines the base development density subtracts wetland areas over 2 acres - so if the zone is 40,000 SF nad you have 20k of wetlands, you need 60,000 sf to make it work - over a large parcel, that number gets more fierce (but it depends on the layout of the wetlands) - so they want us to relax this standard

    they also want to relax the 75' setback standard form the wetland and instead allow closer development ot the wetland in a PUD - I said only if the project uses low impact development techniques and the whole project can be LEEDS certified

    if you want to see mine, it's on our town's website - let me know offline if you have questions -

    but again, take my frustration as the lesson to have the larger property owners that you want to use cluster at the same table with you - it's hard if they refuse, but you should try

  3. #3
          Downtown's avatar
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    Its all about the density, I think. We recently re-wrote our zoning and mandate conservation subdivisions in the parts of town that are undeveloped.
    - Take out the land in wetlands, protected watercourse buffer or steep slopes
    - Calculate your density (here we have 2 du/acre)
    - Set aside 40% of your developable area
    - locate your lots on the remaining land - with no restriction on lot size or setbacks

    In conventional subdivsions, we also require that lots that have some part of a wetland, slope or protected watercourse buffer in them - the lot must have 75% of the required sq. footage to be located outside of the environmentally sensitive area. We had to do this because developers were putting the backs of their houses 10' from the edge of hte wetlands, leaving virtually no backyard, which would guarantee that wetland would be compromised with sheds or pools, or whatever. This requirement has actually pushed some developers of conventional subdivisions to switch to conservation, just because they can get their density out of the conservation because they don't have the bulk standards.

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