Sunday, March 01, 2009

New Urbanism: Fighting Sprawl outside Atlanta

Innkeeping at Serenbe includes organic farming and working with a rural community that organized to leverage strict low-density zoning:
In 2000, while jogging, Mr. Nygren noticed bulldozers on adjacent farmland and promptly panicked that Atlanta’s sprawl was about to consume his solitude. He quickly purchased 900 acres adjacent to the farm and, feeling it was inevitable that land so close to the city would be developed, determined to set an example.

He did so only after banding together with neighboring landowners to push through zoning changes aimed at limiting development to self-contained clusters, surrounded by wilderness. Under the plan, 80 percent of the 40,000-acre Chattahoochee Hill Country region must be preserved as green space.

In the last five years, Serenbe’s first two high-density hamlets have risen, shaped like omegas to flow with the undulations of the land and constructed according to stringent environmental and conservation standards. They have a Main Street feel, with Arts and Crafts cottages sharing the winding lanes with loft-style town houses and sleek modern boxes. Front porches supplant front lawns, and the sidewalks are dotted with fanciful lampposts that seem to have been designed in Whoville.

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