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What is a Conservation Development?

Published on: November 9, 2014

Cornerstone Conservancy is the newest section to be welcomed into the Blue Mountain Lake community. Cornerstone Conservancy is different from the other sections in the community in that it is a Conservation Development, which is a more environmentally conscious approach to creating housing developments. (More about Cornerstone Conservancy)

After purchasing a tract of land, a developer must decide how to subdivide the land into a development.

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In a typical housing development, the developer attempts to use all the buildable land possible. Some sections such as wetlands are preserved by law, but the rest of the land is used for private lots, townhouses or condominiums.

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The goal of a Conservation Development is to provide a balance between housing, natural areas and wildlife habitats. In a Conservation Development, lot sizes may be smaller and houses placed closer together in exchange for preserving large tracts of natural areas.

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If a particular tract of land contains a large amount of wetlands, then a Conservation Development may actually support more homes a traditional development style could. This is especially true in Stroud Township where those wetlands are then protected by a 100-foot buffer. These large buffers protect wildlife habitats, but they also greatly limit uses and activities within these areas (for example: earth disturbance, improving walkways, or cutting vegetation). The construction of tennis courts or mail pods within these conserved areas would require special permits which may be difficult or impossible to obtain. And the cost of applying for a special permit can be expensive, with no guarantee of success.

Roads within Conservation Developments are often narrower that typical development roads, and drainage systems are often larger and kept in a more ‘natural’ state. These differences create less storm water runoff and allow greater absorption of the water into the ground. This is better for the environment.

So while there may be some restrictions that come with owning a home in a Conservation Development, the benefits include added natural beauty and preservation for generations to come. And that’s a good thing.

Drawings: Randall Arendt, Conservation Design for Subdivisions: A Practical Guide to Creating Open Space Networks (Island Press, 1996)