Better Kind of Development in McCook

The opposition group has been vocal in saying that building Laurent in “middle of farm field” makes no sense, and we would like to quote Mark Miller of Nederveld Associates who shared with us in a recent e-mail:

“It looks as though this is the same issue that we have in many places where rural land is up against development.

When we want to preserve rural land, in conventional society we typically zone it large lot (2 to 3 acres). This is the way we preserve the rural character of a place. Many well intentioned planners have created this type of ordinance in addition to forcing large setbacks. Large setbacks have been determined to preserve the rural character as well. By setting a building back 50 feet and placing a landscape berm in front of it, it is thought that we can maintain the rural feeling of a place.

This has proven to be false. Three acre lots and large setbacks have not preserved rural character, the have perpetuated sprawl. Conventional Suburban Development is like a cancer. You can see it chewing up farm land AND you can see it growing in our cities (a strip mall on a corner where a zero lot line building once stood is a good example.)

Urbanism enables ruralism, they go hand in hand. You really can not have one without the other.

Conventional Suburban Development (CSD) is only CSD, it seeks to make our cities low density, auto dominated monoculture places and it does the same to our farmland.

I have vacationed in the Northwest part of Michigan, where some really great small towns exist, right next to some really great farms. There is a distinct edge. In many cases these small towns, the farmland and the hard edge is being blurred with CSD. I have seen farms that have been left for dead, with the barns falling down and the farm implements rusting away, while the pristine homes on two acre lots surround them. This is an epidemic. Everywhere. I can not imagine that South Dakota is any different.

We never really addressed this much at the charrette, but it may well be time. What would McCook Co. look like if growth occurs in conventional terms vs. with traditional fabric? What if all this farm land is compromised around the interchange with big box stores and the obligatory housing pods. It will not be contained in the 300 acres that you have proposed. Maybe the interchange at Mitchell is a good example?”

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