Arlington Woods Open Space Preservation Community: A New Approach to Neighborhoods

The Arlington Woods Open Space Preservation Community (AWOSPC) site development plan was approved with conditions by the Webster Township Planning Commission. The unique housing development can now proceed to Township Trustees for permission to begin construction.

Joy Rd along the bottom edge. Zeeb Rd along the right edge.

AWOSPC is a development of 16 single-family units on a 34.06 acre parcel utilizing the Open Space Preservation Community under Section 12.85 of the Webster Township Zoning Ordinance. The parcel is located in Section 33 on the north side of Joy Road, between Zeeb Road and Potts Road.

Scott Betzoldt, Civil Engineer for Midwestern Consulting, presented solutions to prior commission concerns and answered questions in what he hoped would end in final site plan approval. This was a process which began last year with the first site plans presented to the Commission last April. Consideration by the commission has been meticulous as has been the response by Midwest Consulting.

Betzoldt assured the Board that Midwest Consulting had responded to their earlier feedback by saying, “We received some comments (last April) both from consultants and this board and we incorporated the changes that we could do that fit both the developmental program and what was appropriate for the long term goals of this project.”

Open Space Preservation Communities are progressive approaches to urban development that takes into consideration and seeks to maintain the sensitive nature of the environment. Ordinances have been established in Webster Township that preserves natural features, agricultural and rural landscapes.

This is achieved by reducing residential clusters liberally mixed in with open space and farmland. It is all aimed at assuring the permanent preservation of our open spaces, scenic vistas, agricultural lands and natural features. In short, it reduces urban sprawl.

One example of such preservation efforts was described by Betzoldt, “We have incorporated a landscape buffer of 130-feet which consists of trees and shrubs which is along the agricultural property known as Nixon Farm.”

Open Space Preservation site plans have to take into consideration the careful positioning and design of individual lots, buildings, streets and parking areas with a design that minimizes the alteration of the natural environment. Individual lots are separated and surrounded by buffers of undeveloped landscape.

The Arlington Woods Open Space Preservation Community has been designed to shield the surrounding area and passing traffic from sight of another cluster of houses but is also intended to give residents a sense of bucolic privacy.

Betzoldt fielded questions from the Commissioners regarding drainage, buffer zones, lot configuration, walking pathways, and road entrance configuration from Joy Rd. After an hour and a half of discussion, a motion was made by the Commission to table the approval of the site plan until further documentation for the items in question could be produced.

Chris Atkin of Carlisle-Wortman, consultants to the Planning Commission in matters of land development ordinances, made the point that none of the commissioners’ questions or requests were germane to the feasibility of the plan and encouraged them to move forward with approval.

The motion to table approval was withdrawn and the Commission instead gave approval to the site plan for AWOSPC with a list of condition to be met before proceeding to Webster Township’s Trustees.

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