Conservation Design Subdivision ordinances allow communities to preserve the overall density of development while protecting open spaces and important natural and cultural resources. Typically, the lot sizes for the zoning district the land is in determines the overall density, but but actual lots are some fraction, 1/2, for example, of that base zoning lot size. Requirements are often placed on what part of the property is preserved as well, with priority given to important local natural or cultural features.
Conservation design developments tend to be far more effective in preserving natural features and open space than conventional subdivisions, while being less expensive to develop (because their higher densities result in lower paving and infrastructure costs) and more affordable to buyers (since lot sizes are smaller).
People often choose to move out of crowded cities to less crowded suburbs rather than choose to move into another crowded, urban-density development. Conservation design principles might not reflect current market demand and might therefore be more difficult for many developers (and for some purchasers) to embrace.
Example 1: Ohio
Description: Toolkit and Model Ordinances
Example 2: Michigan
Description: Antrim County, Local Ordinance Gaps Analysis: An essential guide for water protection