Clustering sustains wildlife


Published: Saturday, January 25, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 24, 2003 at 11:41 p.m.

In his letter (Jan. 11), Eugene Brigham argued against rural clustering in the proposed comprehensive plan, suggesting such development depreciates property values. He is an advocate of the current zoning provision, which requires a minimum of five acres per home, presumably to preserve the rural character.

However, the density of 20 homes to 100 acres is not rural, but rather the low-density suburban development that eventually destroys rural environments.

Many early-comers buy undeveloped rural property eventually to become surrounded by other homes. To their surprise and disappointment, the development density of one home per five acres ultimately eliminates the uninterrupted natural vistas and openness that initially attracted homeowners to rural areas.

Wouldn't it be nice to look out from inside your home and not see another house? This is possible with clustered housing. Like a hamlet, clustered development accommodates population growth without the visual pollution of low-density suburbanization.

Clustering does not discount ownership and utilization of the entire five acres; rather, it is a matter of where to place the house in relation to the site and other homes. Subdivisions are ideal venues for clustered development since coordination between homes, property and landscapes can be easily designed.

Legions of planning studies show overwhelmingly that best development practices like clustering enhance property values exponentially as the surrounding region becomes developed. In addition to enhancing property values, clustered development preserves wildlife habitat/movement corridors and the ecological integrity of rural landscapes.

Anti-clustering arguments suggesting that the community should guarantee current farm property values - artificially inflated by sprawl and the prospects of more of it - are ridiculous. Such logic is tantamount to compensating downtown property owners for their property value losses when businesses and residents relocated to suburban sites.

Property ownership is never solely a private affair. The community has rights and obligations to manage its resources (the rural environment), which is linked to property ownership and development.

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