LAND DEVELOPMENT By Rick Harrison
Designing for Density Conventional vs. Advanced Site Design Density—how much is enough? In the land development industry, no matter what is being proposed, someone has to justify a density increase if one wants to suction more profit out of the land, right? Well, not necessarily.
Since every home would be at the same 20’ front yard setback, the preception of space would be similar for both small and large lot: every home would remain exactly 90’ garage door to garage door, no matter what the width of the lot. The feeling of density is more controlled by front yard setback than lot width (the spacing between home fronts). The regulations dictate only front yard minimums creating a garage-grove streetscape typical of the builder/developers competition. You’re probably thinking: If the street length is 23.4% less, wouldn’t the density plummet?
Conventional Site Design
Absolutely—with conventional planning. Density is not actually based upon street length
two is needed in the CAD design of the streets,
but lot width at the front yard setback. With
This 91-lot example development pretty
utilities and grading. But nobody would ques-
Advanced Site Design modeling, the street and
much represents is typical of today’s suburban
tion the validity of the design itself. Well, the
planning. It has 5,220 linear feet of street (one
developer of this tract of land did question it
mile). Given the configuration of the site using
and sought out a better solution.
A significant increase in the preception of space is created when setbacks meander aggressively.
the regulatory “minimums,” anyone would naturally assume this is the only configura-
Advanced Site Design
tion that can work. In the end, the developer is
This plan below, using the exact same regu-
satisfied that this is the best design given the
latory minimums, the same desired building
setback pattern are separated, thereby increas-
pad, and the same restrictions in street width
ing setback length (density) while reducing
and detention limitations, gained eight lots
street length (costs).
The smallest lots are along the entrance, which ultimately has the effect of “cheapening” every home built in the larger lots towards the rear of the project.
with 1,220 lineal feet less street length.
A significant increase in the preception
The developer (who is also the builder)
of space is created when setbacks meander
desired to offer upscale housing, but because
aggressively. Homes that are on an angle to
The site plan as seen would take at most
of the width of the track, was restricted at the
the street soften the garage-grove feel typical
two hours to design using the latest CAD subdi-
entrance by land that he believed would only
of suburban development. Wide meandering
vision design module. Perhaps another day or
support small lots.
walks invite a stroll and enhance value.
Advanced Design 24 Home BUILDER May/June 2015
Published on May 13, 2015
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