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Expert to share green design advice

March 29, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

WAYNESBORO, PA.-- A conservation planning expert will show leaders in Adams and Franklin counties how to design green developments Tuesday at a workshop hosted by the Penn State University Cooperative Extension.

Senior Conservation Adviser Randall Arendt will present a five-hour Growing Greener Workshop on his planning technique known as Conservation by Design at the Adams County Agricultural and Natural Resource Center in Gettysburg, Pa.

Officials from Washington Township (Pa.) have signed up for the workshop, said Extension Educator Judy Chambers. Washington Township has been drafting a conservation subdivision ordinance for the last few years.

The workshop is a statewide community planning initiative developed by the Natural Lands Trust and funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) that will give participants the chance to try their hand at designing green developments.

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Conservation Subdivision Design is a very simple concept. Almost too simple, Arendt said.

Unfortunately, conservation design is also the opposite of how most planners have been taught to build subdivisions, he said.

"Most start by drawing roads and slicing out lots," he said. "Conservation design starts by identifying what open space will be preserved."

Arendt said the idea of Conservation by Design has been around since the late 1950s.

The goal then and now is to help communities use the development process to protect an interconnected network of greenways and permanent open space.

With Pennsylvania municipalities targeting conservation in their comprehensive plans, its popularity has grown over the last decade in the commonwealth.

Arendt said the only way to achieve preservation goals set out in most comprehensive plans while keeping developers happy is to use conservation design principles.

"Easements, transfer and purchase of development rights are all well-meaning, but either do not work, or are not politically or economically viable," he said. "If you want to keep with your comprehensive plan, this is the way to do it."

Arendt will be joined Tuesday by Cindy Tibbott, assistant supervisor for environmental quality at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Ann Hutchinson, senior director of municipal conservation at the Natural Lands Trust.

Chambers said the workshop will feature a talk by Arendt, Tibbott and Hutchinson, but the main event is the hands-on design exercise at the end.

When people do the exercise, Arendt said it is often an "ah-ha" moment where the idea, its goals and benefits finally click.

Chambers said the workshop is open to anyone at a cost of $20 per person. The fee includes registration, dinner and a copy of the "Growing Greener: Conservation by Design" booklet.

Municipal officials and developers are encouraged to attend, she said.

For more information, contact Chambers at 717-334-6271, ext. 313, or send e-mail to chambers@psu.edu.

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