Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Geospatial Tech program works with developers to create sustainable development options

Geospatial Technology instructors Pete Kennedy and Blair Bishop have been working with Haywood Waterways and some volunteer landowners/developers to come up with a more sustainable way of developing land. Others heavily involved in this effort include Hayood County Planners and Soil Erosion Specialists, the NRCS and Natural Resource Division students. The idea behind this pilot project is to help developers understand the need for assessing site characteristics such as slope, soils, water resources and other valuable land characteristics before road design and parcel layout begins. This approach encourages looking at the watershed as a whole and exploring the off-site impacts of a development. During this approach, a parcel of land is evaluated based on the best and safest building sites and then roads and lots are designed around the building sites. This is opposite of the normal approach developers take when the design roads and lay out lots before any other characteristics of the land are evaluated.

The developers involved in this pilot project have embraced many of the groups recommendations which include some non-traditional lot layouts (which yielded homesites with better views and higher price tags) and fewer roads.
In the picture below, Pete Kennedy utilizes the Geographic Information System to illustrate percent slope on a piece of property to County Commissioner Larry Ammonds and Gordon Small from Haywood WaterWays. The interest of a county commissioner was encouraging as we are now looking for ways to 'institutionalize' this approach within the county.

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