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Natural landscapes are not a burden

Letter to the editor
The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN, Circulation: 146,252 Daily 184,418 Sunday)

Tuesday, Sept 11, 2007

Natural landscapes are not a burden
In the article, "Development eases around natural landscape," Jeff Bennett, a Lakeland resident who is part of the development team at The Grove at Lakeland, was quoted as saying, "But to have something beautiful like this, you have to have a developer willing to sacrifice revenue."

I respect his opinion, but a recent study by Wayne State University, "The Economics of Conservation Subdivisions," concluded that "lots in conservation subdivisions carry a premium, are less expensive to build, and sell more quickly than lots in conventional subdivisions," and that "conservation subdivisions are more profitable to developers than conventional subdivisions."

The study also stated: "That lots in conservation subdivisions sold in about half the time as lots in conventional subdivisions must be advantageous to the cash flow of developers," and that "these numbers translate into premiums for lots in conservation subdivisions ranging from $13,000 to $18,000 per acre over lots in conventional subdivisions."

Our experience with conservation subdivision development is that the developer does not have to sacrifice revenue, but rather incurs lower expenses for road building, land clearing, grading and infrastructure, and who would not want that? True conservation subdivisions conserve 50-70 percent of buildable land, in addition to unbuildable steep slopes, wetlands and flood plains, while allowing the same maximum number of home sites as would be allowed using conventional development. These creative developments reduce developers' costs and can be more profitable and faster selling than conventional developments.

Kirt Manecke
Founder and president, LandChoices Milford, Mich.

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