Monday, February 06, 2006

Spread of the "Urban Village" Concept

Frederick County's planning officials are exploring the idea of including small, urbanized islands of development, or urban villages, in the county's master plan, according to an article in the Winchester Star (requires registration). The article does not explain exactly what would constitute an urban village, but seems to suggest they would be areas where the County would concentrate infrastructure development and allow a mix of residential and commercial development.

The idea makes sense. Increasingly, residents of "rural" counties demand "urban" services: water, sewer, neighborhood schools, and fire, police and rescue services. Those services are expensive to provide in a scattered, disconnected, low-density pattern of development. Planners in Frederick County and elsewhere are seeing the wisdom of concentrating development so that the services can be provided more economically.

It is also notable that planners are seeing the value in "mixed use" development. It makes no sense to rigidly segregate commercial and residential uses in an intimate, village atmosphere. Anyone who has visited a French or English "village" can see how mixed uses can co-exist in a harmonious, pedestrian-friendly environment.


At 7:41 AM, Blogger Ray Hyde said...

Now you are talking sense. You'll notice that I have said we need several hundred new towns. If we are looking at 2 million in growth that's 200 new towns of 10,000 each.

Now all you need to do is build the roads, firehouses, and schools.

And find 200 places where the residents won't show up in droves to defeat the idea.

At 9:32 AM, Blogger Toomanytaxes said...

Let's also not forget that NoVA also lies right next to Washington, D.C. While there are some institutional problems with that city, it already has an urban infrastructure in place and has lost at least 200,000 people over the last couple of decades. Washington can handle and needs some substantial growth, both in terms of jobs and new residents.

Virginia needs to work with officials from the District to help steer a considerable bit of the urban growth to Washington. A stronger Washington economy means fewer taxpayer handouts to the District and permits Virginia to avoid at least some of the major costs for creating another urban center several miles across the Potomac.

At 12:42 PM, Blogger Ray Hyde said...

Well, all I can say about the District is that dysfunctional settlement patterns are bad, but they are nothing compared to dysfunctional government patterns.

At 2:51 PM, Blogger Bob Burke said...

Come on, let's no dump on D.C. - they're not perfect but neither is Va., and that's a cheap shot. And, TMT has an excellent point - the urban core has room, the infrastucture is in place.

At 4:38 PM, Blogger Ray Hyde said...

That is no cheap shot, if anything it is an understatement. I lived there and I can tell you horror stories of government in inaction, or government deteriorating under Marion Barry. Northern Virginia'a biggest subsidy is the ineptitude of the DC government, aided and abetted by the Feds.

Nothing will drive NOVANS to DC until the schools are fixed.


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