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The impact of subdivisions designed for conservation on prime farmland conversion

Matthew R Cartlidge, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


In the last two decades, a novel approach to development, which has been commonly referred to as subdivisions designed for conservation, has offered an alternative development approach that is relatively less destructive to natural features, such as farmland. The purpose of this dissertation is to investigate if housing subdivisions designed for conservation can be used as a development strategy that stems the ongoing loss of prime farmland near sprawling metropolitan areas. This study is set in the Village of Grayslake, Illinois, where one of the early pioneers of such subdivisions, Prairie Crossing, is located. Three research questions guide this study and are as follows: what are the motivations of developers and homebuyers who embrace the Prairie Crossing conservation community that was designed with sustainability in mind, is there an observable difference between the amount of prime farmland converted for the Prairie Crossing conservation community and for conventional housing subdivisions located nearby in the Village of Grayslake, Illinois, and how much value is captured in the selling prices of houses constructed in the Prairie Crossing conservation community. The findings from the first research question suggest that people, on average, gravitate to and embrace Prairie Crossing because of its eco-friendly nature and/or its aesthetically pleasing layout and natural amenities. The index values calculated for the second research question pertaining to density indicate that Prairie Crossing consumes more prime farmland than conventional housing subdivisions. Caveats to this specific finding are discussed in the concluding chapter of this dissertation. The hedonic price model created to determine whether or not a premium is associated with the selling prices of houses in Prairie Crossing suggests one is present and has estimated it to be 36.31 percent. In conclusion, subdivisions designed for conservation appear to be an alternative approach to residential development that not only has the potential of abating the conversion rate of prime farmland but also has been embraced by a niche market that is willing to pay a premium to live in them.

Subject Area

Geography|Economics|Land Use Planning|Urban planning

Recommended Citation

Cartlidge, Matthew R, "The impact of subdivisions designed for conservation on prime farmland conversion" (2013). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3590307.