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Building On Common Ground

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... We need to agree on what approaches have not worked. We also need to accept the fact that development does and will occur, so we can focus on the key issues that do make a difference. Most importantly, we need to develop ways of having more productive discussions about these issues. ...

The fields of planning and development are plagued with outdated ideas. Even though the evidence is clear that these ideas do not work, they nonetheless prevail and have power over people.

One of these old ideas concerns the desirability of large lots and low-density development. We now know that developing homes with large lots does not preserve farmland and does not preserve rural character. Large lots incur higher public service cost and force people to drive longer distances. As a planning tool, low density development has been a failure.

Some home builders believe that customers want large lots, but consumer preference surveys conducted by the National Association of Home Builders show that a large lot is one of the first features homebuyers are willing to forego to obtain the home they want. Consumers are most interested in getting the most house for their money in a good neighborhood. And yet, many builders, planners, and public officials remain fixated on large lots. ...

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photo of Joe MolinaroJoseph Molinaro, AICP, is managing director for community outreach programs with the National Association of Realtors in Washington, DC. In this position, he oversees NAR’s smart growth and housing opportunity programs, conducts public opinion polling on growth and housing issues, and tracks state legislation that affects real estate.

-- bio updated 03/27/14

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