Better Models for Development nominations

Thanh -- February 16th, 2009

The Valley Conservation Council (VCC) is currently seeking nominations for their annual Better Models for Development Awards.  The awards “recognize new development projects that best add to our region’s quality of life, environmentally as well as economically.” VCC’s Six Principles for Better Development are:

1. Conserve Natural & Scenic Assets 
Protect Farm and Forest Land
Use Conservation Easements
Preserve Scenic Views and Vistas
Protect Riparian Areas and Special Habitats
Plant and Preserve Trees

2. Maintain a Clear Edge
Between Town and Countryside
Grow In, Not Out
Delineate Gateways
Use Open Space Development Techniques

3. Build Livable Communities
Extend Villages and Towns
Make True Neighborhoods
• Mix Uses and Building Types

• Hide the Car
• Provide Parks and Open Space
• Use Good Design
Strengthen Community Cores
Rework the Strip
4. Preserve Historic Resources
Know the Value of History
Identify and Designate Historic Sites
Find New Uses for Old Buildings
Preserve Battlefields

5. Respect Local Character in New Construction
Set the Standard with Public Buildings
Ask Franchises and Chain Stores to Fit In
Landscape Commercial Areas
Control Signs
Disguise Communications Towers

6. Reduce the Impact of the Car
Design Streets for Healthy Neighborhoods
Build Trails and Greenways
Reassess Road Standards

These principles come from the publication “Better Models for Development in the Shenandoah Valley” by Sara Hollberg and Ed McMahon. A quote from the webpage where the publication can be downloaded says:

The Shenandoah Valley has the potential to retain its special character, because the quality and design of new development can be significantly improved. Too often, the debate over development is seen as an either/or contest: development or no development, progress or preservation. A more useful framing of the issues is to concentrate on “how” and “where” we develop. Once we define what is damaging or unsatisfying about conventional development, we can address those concerns. The three critical elements are the location, the arrangement, and the design of new development.

In Harrisonburg, the following projects have been presented past awards for Better Models for Development:

  • In 2005, The Market Place/ Court Square Theater was awarded for Outstanding Public-Private Development Project.
  • In 2006, Liberty Park was awarded for Outstanding Urban Park and the Hardesty-Higgins House was awarded for and Outstanding Public Reuse of a Historic Building.
  • In 2007, the City Exchange was awarded for Best Downtown Redevelopment Project.
  • In 2008, the Taliaferro-Eshman Building and Walton Hotel was awarded ‘Back from the Brink’ Historic Rehabilitation.

Additional information and nomination forms can be found at the Valley Conservation Council website. The deadline for nominations is March 20, 2009.

6 Responses to “Better Models for Development nominations”

  1. Thanh says:

    I have to say; I am impressed with the number of projects in Harrisonburg that have been awarded. Looking forward to seeing more! Great job/Kudos to the people who worked on the previously awarded projects!

  2. rich lightner says:

    Thanks for writing an article that encourages us to support smart development…. personally I would prefer much less development.
    All the environmental challenges we face would become easier if each of us chose for ourselves to have only one or two kids.

  3. Andy Perrine says:

    Most of the goals and principles stated above guide the work of Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance. And in fact, all four of the award-winning development project cited above are in the downtown district.

    I encourage anyone interested helping further this type of development to volunteer for one of HDR’s four standing committees: design, operations, economic development and promotions. All meet monthly and the work is meaningful and fun.

    Call the Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance office at 432-8922 to volunteer. As stated in the post above, development is inevitable. Let’s accept that fact and constructively guide it so that the special character of our town is preserved and strengthened.

  4. rich lightner says:

    Development is Not inevitable. Contractors will need to realize that they don’t have a full time job. Development is only good up to a point. There can be too many people living in an area and when this happens everyones life becomes less fulfilling- more stress, more fees, more waiting, more strangers, more germs…..

  5. Lisa says:

    Wanted to mention that the Hardesty-Higgins House renovation was the FIRST downtown project to win a VCC award for Outstanding Public Reuse of a Historic Building. Didn’t want to leave that one out.

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