WMU News

Local land use professionals to meet with national expert

Oct. 6, 1997

KALAMAZOO -- More than 100 Kalamazoo County planners, developers, elected officials, real estate agents and others involved in community development will gather at Western Michigan University Wednesday, Oct. 15, to hear one of the nation's leading proponents of preserving open spaces.

"Rural by Design: Conservation Design for Subdivisions" is the title of a forum that will be presented at 7 p.m. in the Kirsch Auditorium of the Fetzer Center by Randall G. Arendt, vice president for conservation planning at the Natural Lands Trust in Media, Pa.

The forum has been developed to present an alternative to traditional subdivision design and to promote discussions among those with the most involvement in land use decisions. Attendance at the free event is by invitation only. Among those planning to attend are a large number of officials from Alamo, Oshtemo and Texas townships as well as representatives from other Kalamazoo County townships and municipalities. Also attending will be a broad cross section of professionals in the land use industry, including developers and home builders, real estate agents, lenders, attorneys and engineers.

Arendt is a landscape architect who has lectured in 43 states and is the author of more than 20 publications. His best-known works include "Rural by Design: Maintaining Small Town Character" and "Conservation Design for Subdivisions: A Practical Guide to Creating Open Space Networks." He argues that conventional zoning has fostered a sprawling pattern of development that has unnecessarily consumed large amounts of open space and farm land. He says using his design methods can result in achieving the same housing density while preserving open tracts and increasing both land value and the quality of community life.

Arendt's visit to Kalamazoo is sponsored by WMU's Groundwater Education in Michigan Regional Center, Oshtemo Charter Township and the Kalamazoo County Department of Planning and Community Development. Financial support for the event was provided by a grant from the Michigan Economic and Environmental Roundtable and the Michigan Environmental Council with funding from the C.S. Mott Foundation.

For more information about the program, persons may contact Lauren Hughes, associate director of WMU's GEM Regional Center, at (616) 387-4930; Rebecca Harvey, planning and zoning official with Oshtemo Township, at 616 375-4260; and John C. Sych, senior planner for Kalamazoo County, at 616 384-8115.

To confirm or arrange coverage of the forum, call Cheryl Roland, WMU Marketing, Public Relations and Communications, at 616 387-8412.

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