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Thread: I need some software to help plan a small town

  1. #1
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    I need some software to help plan a small town

    Our group has 160 acres with the option to purchase more. We are looking to find some easy to use software that will help us plan the place for homes, roads, buried sewer and water lines, etc. We realize the importance of planning all of this stuff ahead of time.

    Can anyone on this forum point me in the right direction? I've very new to all this, but I know we can pull this off.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    You can try arcview gis or CAD but need to know how to work the software. When all else fails try just whipping out a pencil and paper, or even better, hired a qualified firm to do the work for you (my firm does this type of work).
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  3. #3
    Dan Staley's avatar
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    In my view ArcView is a shallower learning curve than CAD.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I would completely agree with using a GIS for the conceptual planning phase, but you will need the detail of CAD when it comes to design.

    Planning for any development, especially larger ones such as this, is not an easy task. It is not something you want to tackle without experienced and qualified people on your team. You will want an appropriate configuration and location for various uses, which influences and is influenced by the location and capacity of utility services, transportation networks, greenspace, stormwater, and other features of the site. In addition, this all needs to comply with (or modify) the community's zoning and design standards. You will also be trying to minimize development costs related to grading and infrastructure, while maximizing development opportunity (both from a market perspective and through uses and site density).

    If you do not have the experience you really do not want to try this on your own. I have seen far too many mistakes that have cost the developer more than necessary, or have placed the uses in the wrong locations, or have required countless reivsions to the plans, etc.
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  5. #5
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Basics (if you're experienced at site planning) could be done using ArcMap, CAD, or even GoogleSketchup. But if you're asking this question, you expose the fact that you probably are very inexperienced or not experienced at all.

    This may sound harsh, but I agree with Cardinal - Do not attempt this on your own!

    160 acres (plus more) of raw land (presumably) for the development of even single use detached houses will be more complicated then you can handle.

    Hire an experienced local engineering firm to do all the plan creation. It will cost more at the front end, but will be much cheaper at the back end.

    Good luck! You're going to need it.
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  6. #6
    Dan Staley's avatar
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    One presumes "the group" has retained a firm with planners and engineers on board, and the other members want the software to play around with at home (OK, I did).

    If this is not the case, and echoing what has been said above, then you will be very unhappy at the delays the jurisdiction is causing you because of a, b, c, d, w, x, y, and z. These delays arise from re-draws and re-calcs and re-negotiating the loan(s).

    In these cases of delay, the jurisdiction usually gets the blame for project delay, despite the development group not having their ducks aligned more or less straight.

    Choose a firm that can list a decent number of recent projects with the jurisdiction and that doesn't recant numerous bitter tales of battles with said jurisdiction (unless they all do, then that's another clue you want a firm).

    Good luck in your project.
    Last edited by Dan Staley; 22 Oct 2008 at 2:42 PM. Reason: typos

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    To offer one example...

    A local developer proposed a project with a public street. His one-man engineering shop drew up plans with several problems that had to be corrected, but also things that would work but could be done differently. He had several hundred feet of storm sewer in the project. Our reviewing engineer took out a pen and showed an alternative with a fraction of the piping, that ultimately saved the developer tens of thousands of dollars. This is what a good design firm will bring to the table. I would recommend that the firm(s) you use be able to provide the following:

    1) a market analysis to determine land uses and space needs - how much retail space? How many housing units of what type? Market positioning. Phasing. Optimal location of various uses. Correct amenities to enhance marketability.

    2) site design to maximize yield and minimize infrastructure costs. This includes planning for conceptual design based on market and site conditions, and engineering to execute the plans.
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  8. #8
    Cyburbian vagaplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mendelman View post

    This may sound harsh, but I agree with Cardinal - Do not attempt this on your own!

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