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MYTH: "Clustering" is the same as conservation subdivisions.
TRUTH: Clustering is an outdated process that normally only preserves 25% to 30% of the land, often including land that could not be built on anyways, i.e. unbuildable wetlands, steep slopes and floodplains.
MYTH: Conservation subdivisions are one more type of "sprawl" and encourage development in fringe areas.
TRUTH: Conservation subdivisions are usually considered only when landowners or developers are already planning to subdivide a property.
Conservation subdivisions can be built in urban, sewered, high density areas zoned at 2-3-4 units per acre, preserving 40% open space, in addition to the unbuildable wetlands, floodplains, and steep slopes.
MYTH: Conservation subdivisions are not needed as most people are "returning to the cities."
TRUTH: According to "Greenfield Development Without Sprawl: The Role of Planned Communities" from the Urban Land Institute:
"Many see infill-adding households within revitalized city neighborhoods or inner-ring suburbs-as the responsible, resource-conscious way to meet the need.
But infill strategies, even if universally accepted, cannot happen fast enough or in great enough numbers to make much of a difference by 2025."
"Even if every prospective homebuyer and renter in America decided tomorrow to return to the city, the supertanker of population and suburban development would steam on for years before making much of a course of correction.
Despite the much-touted "return to the cities" of retirees, empty nesters, and young professionals, which is transforming older neighborhoods and business centers in many cities, experts believe this trend will capture only a relatively small proportion of future development."
"Between 2003 and 2025, the United States is expected to grow by almost 58 million people-a Census Bureau forecast that roughly continues the average 2.75 million to 3 million-plus a year increase since 1980.
Even the most optimistic assumptions foresee accommodating at most 18 million or so of these new people through infill. That leaves at least 40 million to still be accommodated in some sort of new greenfield community."
Ed McMahon, a member of LandChoices, Fellow at the Urban Land Institute and one of our nation's top experts on land use.
In the 2009 study, "55+ Housing: Builders, Buyers, AND Beyond", by the National Association of Homebuilders and MetLife Mature Market Institute, the majority of the age 55+ respondents prefer a home in a suburb:
"Suburban Life Preferred: The majority of
respondents prefer a home in a suburb, with 32% wanting to live in close-in suburbs and 31% in outlying suburbs. In comparison, 28% prefer a rural community, while only 9% want to live in a central city."
MYTH: It costs too much to preserve land and trees in new subdivisions.
TRUTH: Studies prove setting natural areas aside costs less than clearing and grading land and providing infrastructure.
MYTH: Conservation subdivisions increase density.
TRUTH: Conservation subdivisions have the same density as zoning allows with a conventional subdivision. It does not allow for higher density per acre, but simpy puts the same number of homes as allowed in a conventional subdivision development in a smaller area. Houses are rearranged to preserve over half of the buildable land.
A conservation subdivision is NOT a planned unit development (PUD) "New Urbanism" style community, or a "Traditional Neighborhood Design" (TND), where densities are greater.
In a conservation subdivision, the local ordinance doesn't necessarily allow more houses on a particular tract of land; developers simply must set aside at least half of the buildable land. They can build the same number of houses on the property that's left. In the end, the development allows the same number of homeowners as a conventional subdivision.
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