December 2, 2003

Cluster subdivisions

After spending the past few days talking about things in the Draft Comprehensive Plan that worry me, it's probably a good idea to talk about things in the plan that intrigue me.

The discussion of Cluster Subdivisions on pages 50-52 of the plan is interesting. Cluster Subdivisions "provide for an alternative method for configuring building lots, dwellings, roads, utility lines, and other infrastructure in order to preserve the natural and scenic qualities of open land... The purpose of cluster subdivision design is NOT to increase site density, but to preserve open space and reduce the amount of road, water, sewerage, and other public infrastructure needed to be built and maintained to serve residential development."

They include pictures on pages 51 and 52 which contrast a traditional subdivision with a cluster subdivision, making fairly clear how smaller lots and shared space can produce the side effect of preserved open land and lower costs for infrastructure.

This makes a lot of sense to me - more, certainly, than allowing eight dwellings per acre wherever there happens to be water infrastructure. It takes a lot more factors into account and can be customized on a site-by-site basis. The greater density seems more likely to produce pedestrian-friendly areas, and maybe groups of these things might even effectively create new hamlets.

I also wonder whether it would make any difference for implementing co-housing ideas like Ecovillage, which uses a similar combination of dense housing and open space but doesn't, I think, use a formal subdivision. (Now I'm curious about how they handled that.) I very much doubt co-housing would sweep Dryden by storm, but it might make sense as one possibility among lots of others.

Posted by simon at December 2, 2003 12:35 PM in
Note on photos