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The fastest growing US communities are in the exurbs. An exurb is usually a far-flung suburban community located out in rural America, just barely in reach of an established metro area. Sometimes they develop like independent pockets of suburban sprawl and some are communities of small ranches or as the French called them “ornamental farms”. The people in these areas move there because they like the rural setting and small town feel. The American Dream has always been to have your own little green acre out in the country far from the crime, congestion and pollution of the city. 

But exurban growth is creating the very thing that made people moved to them in the first place. The shear numbers and popularity of this movement dictates that. The mindless reaction in many of these communities has been to try and stop any and all further growth. Considering the national trend, this is like trying to plug the leak in the dike with your finger, not to mention the obvious selfish hypocrisy of such a position. So how do you sustain this trend and preserve the very things that motivate it? 

I attended a symposium a few years ago that covered the topic. Randle Arendt proposes controlled rural growth targeting mainly exurban development, much like New Urbanism advocates for our urban and suburban centers. His method would rely on changing existing codes and ordnances to insure these communities preserve their natural features and countryside vistas. This would require developers to down size large multiple-acre lots to much smaller sized lots in order to dedicate the remaining land to vast common open spaces, thus preserving the surrounding countryside. 

Some people feel this is Draconian when applied to comprehensive plans. Arendt apparently feels that the small town and rural features of the countryside would be destroyed without it. 

I’m for letting the market decide. Let cookie cutter suburban sprawl continue in our rural areas, basically turning the countryside into what everyone in the suburbs wants to get away from. Then compare that to the quality of life in the developments Arendt supports.  

http://www.plannersweb.com/articles/are015.html

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Bio


I am a son of a son of an architect. I’m married to an architect as well as being in landscape architecture. Needless to say I’ve been in and around design all my life.

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In the early 60’s my father moved us to a little known Florida town called Winter Park. He bought a lot on the corner of Park Ave and Swoop where he built his first apartments. He setup his offices in a quaint Mediterranean style courtyard called Greenada Court. I would visit him on Friday afternoons where he would let me sit at his drawing board. I would go around the corner to Irvine’s Drugstore to buy the latest comic books and bring them back to draw. Little did I know this small traditional town setting would become one of Andres Duany’s models for the New Urbanism movement.

As a designer I’ve lived, studied and traveled throughout Europe. I studied in Tuscany, lived in Paris, owned a home in South-Central France and traveled to see most all the greatest art, architecture and landscape of the Western World. Designing the built environment is one of my life’s passions. 
Postcard of Greenada Court, Winter Park

While my father worked in a traditional town, we lived in a nearby standard suburban development that was built in the 50s. The community was filled with families that had moved there from all over the country, a true American melting pot. You’d be hard pressed to find any Florida natives, although there were a few. We all were from families who had traveled from other parts of the country to permanently settle in a subtropical vacation land. While a bit homogeneous, this afforded me the opportunity of growing up in diverse American environment. It also instill in me the knowledge of how traditional town designs compare with standard suburban development.

While diverse in an American sense, my suburban upbringing left me hungry to experience other more exotic cultures with distinct and different identities. Having grown up in a relatively bland, Wonder Bread, suburban surrounding, things European appear to me rich with culture, design and overall flavor and texture. Before I could read I would pour over my encyclopedias and wonder about places like Mount St. Michele. In school, I was fascinated with ancient art history and enamored with what I learned in by humanities class. I vowed that I would someday actually experience firsthand these beautiful places and works of art.

My chance came when I enrolled in the University of Georgia’s Study Abroad Program in Cortona, Italy. The first day, without getting any sleep on the redeye to Rome, I jump on a bus that led me to St Peter’s Square. I’ll never forget walking into St. Peter’s Cathedral, astonished by the immensity, the exquisite details, knowing that Michelangelo’s and Bernini’s designs where all around me and then looking to my right to see the Peita… I was in love.

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Historical Italian Gardens

After the summer studying in Italy and traveling throughout Europe I raised my fascination with Europe to a new level, I wanted to someday live there and learn as much as I could about the culture and rhythms of the people and these societies. Why they lived as they did and how did they arrive at to this point.

Later, during the stock boom of the late 90’s and early 2000’s and then the real estate runup I was able use my investments to realize my dreams. I moved to Paris and lived there for a year. Then, after the Internet stock market bubble burst, I bought an old house in an historic part of Cahors, France, one hour north of Toulouse. 

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Cahors, France

During this time I visited some of the greatest built designs in western culture, i.e., Alhambra, Piazza San Marco, Versailles, the Hagia Sophia, and cities such a Prague, Amsterdam, Brugge and so many more. I recorded my observations and published it on the web along with my thoughts on European politics, current events and culture. While living in France and renovating the house I owned, I totally immersed myself in their culture.

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A Road Less Traveled

I realize this deviates from the current modern career track most people have accepted as the norm but it also gives me an advantage and/or side most professional in my field no longer have. Like the tradition of the late 1880’s and early 1900’s, my experience hearkens back to traditional educational tracks that requires a certain amount of travel to study antiquity. The pilgrimage of artist and designers to Europe is legendary and something I tried to emulate and conversely benefit from.

 

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The Greek Islands