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Copyright 2007
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There's a better way to develop our land

The Saline Reporter, November 8, 2007

By LandChoices' member Gale Dettling

I have been a resident of Saline for 17 years. I care deeply about preserving Saline's rural character and desirable small town atmosphere. As a solution to the proposed 1,000 acre Biltmore development, I would like the township and community to consider implementing conservation subdivision design to complement and enhance Saline's community. Imagine a neighborhood design style that preserves ½ to ¾ of the buildable land but allows the same number of homes as conventional subdivision development! According to a recent study conducted by Wayne State University, conservation subdivisions are less costly, faster selling and more profitable for developers. Conservation subdivision design promotes a win-win situation for the community and the developers!

Conservation subdivisions are not the same as "clustering". Clustering normally only preserves 25% to 30% of the land including land that could not be built on i.e. unbuildable wetlands, steep slopes and floodplains. While clustering uses the outdated method of building homes close together in pod-like arrangements, conservation subdivisions strategically place home sites for privacy and the best views of open space, thereby increasing home value. Conservation subdivision design preserves 50% to 70% of the buildable land. This is in addition to the unbuildable wetlands, steep slopes and floodplains, thus preserving a much higher quality and percentage of land than clustering.

LandChoices is a local Michigan non-profit organization that promotes conservation subdivision design for every beautiful place in America slated for residential development. Eight years ago I became acquainted with Kirt Manecke, Founder and President of LandChoices. Kirt's passion for real and effective alternatives to what many feel is an unwelcome "inevitable" inspired me.

Randall Arendt is the nation's foremost authority on conservation subdivisions and also a member of LandChoices' Advisory Group. Randall helped Hamburg Township in Livingston County preserve the rural character of 2,000 acres at no cost to the community through conservation subdivision design. Numerous communities nationwide have benefited from his expertise.

Please know that this proven design method can be implemented into Saline's ordinances and used to revise the Biltmore development site plan!

But how? There is still time to change the ordinance if we act quickly. Visit and click on "Take Action Now!" or go directly to the campaign page at Download the one page conservation subdivision fact sheet and if you decide you'd like to bring conservation subdivisions to Saline, take the next step by presenting conservation subdivision design to your local planning commission. The Saline Township planning commission meets on the Wednesday after the second Monday of each month. The next scheduled meeting is November 14, 2007. You are also encouraged to attend the township board meetings held on the second Monday of each month. Decisions made now will impact our community for years and years to come. You can make a difference!

Gale Dettling

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