Saturday, October 01, 2005


A developer is proposing to build a "clustered housing community" in the wilds of Saco, Maine. According to the linked Press Herald article, "Diane Doyle's plans call for a cluster of 31 "green" houses on 15 acres of a 65-acre parcel off Route 112 near the Buxton town line, with the rest of the land set aside as open space."

Doyle, a Saco developer, said she envisions the project as a demonstration of
green building techniques and land-use planning. She said the homes, priced at
about $400,000 and restricted to people 55 and older, would be positioned to
maximize solar gain and feature landscaping requiring no irrigation or
chemicals. The clustering of the homes is meant to foster a sense of community
and leave open space for all residents to enjoy.

This project is the sort of community that we will need to build in the future. It combats sprawl, which has led to excessive resource waste (fuel consumption primarily), and we will be seeing more and more use of green building technology in the future as fossil fuels become more scarce. It appears to be a proactive approach to building a subdivision.

Naturally, the neighbors are pissed. "(A) few neighbors who never expected to see a cluster of homes in their neighborhood have expressed doubts." One guy (Paul Rouleau) has a reasonable argument: "Rouleau said he is not necessarily opposed to the project but he believes the City Council needs to closely scrutinize the effect on traffic and neighbors' wells."

When you consider, however, that 150 acres or so will not be built upon, these concerns seem to be minimized. When you could have 70+ houses in the area and you're only getting 35, I would think that would be better. It's just the people who abut the development area who are being impacted by the concentration of houses. These are issues for the city council to consider, as a zoning change would need to be in the offing. The area is currently zones as "rural", meaning that lot sizes can not be under two acres. The rural designation seems to be a bit antiquated, as what it does today is lead to overly sprawling subdivisions.

It seems like people are all over "good ideas", until they have to deal with those ideas themselves. People love tax cuts, but they don't like their services to be cut. I could go on, and in fact I do have some ideas that I'm developing for a full-fledged "NIMBY" post. I hope that the Saco city council decides that the needs of the many should take precedence to the needs of the few. A "green" development is to be applauded, and I hope that I read about more such projects in the future.


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