(Charlottesville) Green Buildings, Smart Design
At the Simplicity development in Charlottesville more land is being left
open than is actually being developed. This small-scale project leaves three of its
four-and-a-half acres as open space. A green, affordable, bike- and pedestrian-friendly
neighborhood will soon exist on what used to be an abandoned industrial site.
In fact, Simplicity gives new meaning to the term "pedestrian-friendly." The
developers plan no through streets, only a central parking area with foot access to homes,
parks and open spaces. Residents may find they don't even need cars, as the downtown areas
of Belmont and Charlottesville are only a 5- to 10- minute walk. Children will be able to
safely bike or walk to the neighborhood elementary school in about 10 minutes, and
commuters can use bus service to connect with rail and other forms of transit. The
University of Virginia, the region's largest employer, is 15 minutes away by bus.
Simplicity also pushes the envelope when it comes to green-building techniques. The
houses will be constructed with extensive use of natural or environmentally friendly
building materials and will be very energy efficient. Solar water heaters and special
floor heating systems will be incorporated into all the homes.
Though developers hope to make this the greenest community of its kind in the area, the
goal is to keep these homes affordable. In fact, over half of the housing stock will be
reserved for first-time homebuyers earning 80 percent or less of the area's average
Perhaps the best thing about Simplicity is that it is designed to last. The developers
propose to transfer ownership of the green spaces on the eastern half of the property to a
public/private organization that will permanently protect them.
at Round Hill (Loudoun County) Huge Housing Project Scares Nearby Towns
Residents of Loudoun County have mobilized to fight sprawl by electing
an entire new board of supervisors dedicated to smart growth. Unfortunately, years of bad
planning have left a legacy of sprawling projects that continue to harm the area.
The Villages at Round Hill, a massive 1,100-unit housing development, is one of them.
Situated in rural Loudoun County, with no shops or stores and little public
transportation, the development's location will force residents to drive to the small town
of Round Hill for every errand. There are no provisions for pedestrians or bicycles on
these small rural roads, and increased traffic is making a stroll or a ride unpleasant and
Efforts are being made to direct growth to existing urban or rural communities. The
trade off is supposed to be a dramatic decrease in building on agricultural land.
Unfortunately, sprawl continues to creep into agricultural areas.
If the Round Hill development has a silver lining, it's that the project has spurred
other towns in Loudoun County to become more proactive in fighting sprawl.