open space conservation



From the Smart Growth Network

·         Create a Range of Housing Opportunities and Choices
Providing quality housing for people of all income levels is an integral component in any smart growth strategy.

·         Create Walkable Neighborhoods
Walkable communities are desirable places to live, work, learn, worship and play, and therefore a key component of smart growth.

·         Encourage Community and Stakeholder Collaboration
Growth can create great places to live, work and play -- if it responds to a community’s own sense of how and where it wants to grow.

·         Foster Distinctive, Attractive Communities with a Strong Sense of Place
Smart growth encourages communities to craft a vision and set standards for development and construction which respond to community values of architectural beauty and distinctiveness, as well as expanded choices in housing and transportation.

·         Make Development Decisions Predictable, Fair and Cost Effective
For a community to be successful in implementing smart growth, it must be embraced by the private sector.

·         Mix Land Uses
Smart growth supports the integration of mixed land uses into communities as a critical component of achieving better places to live.

·         Preserve Open Space, Farmland, Natural Beauty and Critical Environmental Areas
Open space preservation supports smart growth goals by bolstering local economies, preserving critical environmental areas, improving our communities quality of life, and guiding new growth into existing communities.

·         Provide a Variety of Transportation Choices
Providing people with more choices in housing, shopping, communities, and transportation is a key aim of smart growth.

·         Strengthen and Direct Development Towards Existing Communities
Smart growth directs development towards existing communities already served by infrastructure, seeking to utilize the resources that existing neighborhoods offer, and conserve open space and irreplaceable natural resources on the urban fringe.

·         Take Advantage of Compact Building Design
Smart growth provides a means for communities to incorporate more compact building design as an alternative to conventional, land consumptive development.


Clustered Housing

The General Problem

The implementation of conventional zoning and subdivision regulations since World-War II has resulted in a spatial pattern of development around metropolitan centers now commonly known as suburban sprawl. Originally conceived by the real estate industry in the 1920s as a means to segregate incompatible uses and to protect private property values, these regulatory approaches have since been exported to other, more rural areas as well.  In the rural municipalities where such mechanisms have been employed to separate differing land uses and to regulate development, the patterns of recent growth upon the land bear an unsettling resemblance to the monotonous spread of "grid-style" housing which now girdles our major metropolitan areas.

The traditional landscape of New England, that of compact villages surrounded by an open countryside, is fast giving way to this newer pattern of roadside development, "wall-to-wall" subdivisions, shopping centers and office parks.

Modern land-use regulations often dictate such an outcome. Land-consumptive requirements for large building lots, extensive road frontage, deep set-backs for structures, and wide, paved roads with vertical curbing have effectively prohibited development designed along more traditional lines.

At the same time, little or no requirement is made for the preservation of open space; some form of conversion and development is envisioned for all land in this zoning process. Measures originally intended to preserve rural character and slow growth have merely dispersed development, while consuming a proportionally larger amount of farm, forest, and recreational land in the process. The historic lines of demarcation between what is village and what is countryside are slowly becoming blurred and replaced by a homogenous, suburbanized landscape without such distinctions.


Other studies have shown that proximity to protected open space and the provision of some basic recreational facilities enhances residential property value. This study suggests benefits that can transcend even a significant reduction in house-lot size: The design flexibility inherent in an open-space layout leaves room for integrating the undeveloped lands into and around the groupings of structures. This ensures ready access to considerably more open land than would be possible on a given, albeit larger, residential houselot.

Developers, municipal governments, and home-buyers may wish to re-evaluate the marketability and property-tax generation potential of cluster/open space developments as an alternative to the more land consumptive, conventional housing pattern. It is an approach to land development that can meet multiple needs. Landowners and developers are permitted to construct the same number of housing units otherwise allowed under a conventional subdivision plan while capitalizing upon the added economies of scale and flexibility inherent in a cluster/open space design. Local zoning that permits (or, in some cases, mandates) open-space design can meet a municipality's land-protection goals at little or no cost. This is possible because, as each new subdivision is built, a portion of the town's remaining open space is protected rather than consumed--but without the high costs associated with the purchase of the land itself or its development rights. Finally, as this research indicates, the home-buyer, speaking in dollar-terms through the marketplace, appears to have demonstrated a greater desire for a home with access and proximity to permanently-protected land, than for one located on a bigger lot, but without the open-space amenity.

By whatever name they are called, open space subdivisions are a good planning option for Coventry. 

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