Don’t Let this Happen in Your Community

Farm vs modern development (2)

Poorly planned development gobbling up working farmland. Photo courtesy Equine Land Conservation Resource.

Frequently Asked Questions about Conservation Subdivisions

Isn’t a conservation subdivision just one more type of “sprawl”?
Conservation subdivisions are not the cause of over development (sprawl). Low-density residential zoning that covers the countryside is the cause of over development (sprawl). Conservation subdivisions are proposed only when landowners or developers are already planning to subdivide a property.

The fact is, development in our fringe areas is going to happen, and we can either continue with look-alike, soulless subdivisions that often destroy the very features they are named after, or we can make certain that whatever development happens in the future is done right, conserving natural resources and creating a high quality of life for the home buyers and residents of the greater region.

Is conservation subdivision design the same as clustering?
No. Clustering is an outdated process that normally only preserves 20% to 30% of the land, often including land that could not be built on in any case, i.e. unbuildable wetlands, steep slopes and floodplains.

How do conservation subdivisions contain the same number of home sites as conventional subdivisions?
Homes are located on half (or less) of the buildable land, preserving the other half of the buildable land as well as all of the unbuildable land.

How is land permanently preserved in a conservation subdivision?
Normally a homeowner’s association oversees stewardship to make certain the land is protected. Deed restrictions written into the master deed ensure preservation.

In cases where local land conservancies or land trusts are active, the land can be preserved permanently using a conservation easement. This is the most effective way to guarantee permanent protection of the land as a conservation easement is a legal agreement.

Who pays the taxes on the open space lands in a conservation subdivision?
Whoever owns the conservation land is responsible for taxes. In most cases the homeowner’s association owns the conservation land and is responsible to pay the taxes. The taxes are normally the same rate as what a homeowner would pay in a conventional subdivision development. In some cases an individual landowner, or in rare cases a land trust or municipality, may own the conservation land and be responsible for the taxes.

Are homes in conservation subdivisions more expensive than in conventional subdivisions?
It all depends on supply and demand. Because the supply is short and demand is high prices may be more expensive in areas.

As conservation subdivisions lot sizes may not be quite as large as in conventional subdivisions, aren’t they harder to sell?
Studies point out that lots in conservation subdivisions sell faster than lots in conventional subdivisions. For example, lots on lakes and golf courses normally are a bit smaller and they are often the fastest selling real estate in our country.

Lot sizes in conservation subdivisions vary in size from, for example 1/4 acre in urban settings up to 4.3 acres or more in rural areas. As most of the homes have privacy and views of open space, and access to these acres, the size of the yard becomes much less important. Most conservation subdivisions offer lot sizes of 1/2 acre up to one or 1.5 acres

Don’t most home buyers want the large McMansion style home on the large lot?
America is seeing a surge of home buyers who want all the amenities they are used to, but also want a smaller home in order to reduce payments and upkeep, and free up more time to enjoy life. Home buyers also want views of open space and access to parks and natural areas. However, developers can still build very large homes on lost of 1/2 acre or more in suburban and rural conservation subdivisions where the zoning density is fairly low.