New Dayton subdivision is not a ‘cookie-cutter’ suburban neighborhood, designer says

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October 18 — The designer of a proposed new subdivision in northeast Dayton says its unique and efficient layout and street and setback patterns provide connectivity, character and quality of life unmatched to any other development in the city.

The winding roads and alleys and the different setbacks and locations of houses on the grounds help create a neighborhood very different from the “cookie-cutter” developments common in the suburbs, said Richard Harrison, president and founder of Richard Harrison Site Design Studio, based in Minnesota, which designs the plans.

“What we are doing on this site is different from any developments you have ever seen in the city,” he said. “You end up with a neighborhood that is going to look better, feel better and it will be a better place to live.”

While new home construction has been hot in the area, ongoing homes within the city limits of Dayton have been limited in recent years.

Building permits for about 1,700 new private housing units were issued in the Dayton metro area last year, the highest number of units since before the housing crash and the Great Recession, according to new data from US Census survey.

More than 575 new apartments have opened in downtown Dayton over the past four years, with more on the way. But during that time, the city issued just a few dozen permits for the construction of new homes across the city, according to building permit data reviewed by this newspaper.

Developer Thomas Cahalan submitted a proposed development plan to the City of Dayton to build a new subdivision called Cherrywood.

The 10.9-acre site at 5259 Kitridge Road in the Pheasant Hill neighborhood is almost entirely vacant and plans call for 40 new single-family homes.

The property is zoned suburban single-family, and the developer offers six to eight home designs, and the homes would range in size from 1,900 square feet to 2,300 square feet, said Jeff Green, city planner for the City of Dayton.

The homes are said to have covered porches and attached recessed garages, the applicants said.

A unique element of the development is its winding sidewalks that enter and exit the right-of-way and the front yards of houses, meaning some sections would need easements to ensure public access, Green said.

The proposed layout has varying lot sizes, setbacks and orientation, which is a break from most subdivisions, which tend to be fairly uniform, Green said.

Some setbacks are 25 feet while others are over 100 feet, and some larger lots are said to have meadow beds, Green said.

The plans also show a common open space with a playground in the middle of the site, with several connected footpaths, including one that provides access from a cul-de-sac, which also has a non-traditional design.

Developers generally want to maximize density and try to make the smallest, narrowest lots possible, Harrison said, and standard grid subdivisions typically have parallel houses.

But Harrison said his company, for several decades, has taken a different approach to creating better neighborhoods designed to have less infrastructure and more green space.

He said no house in this subdivision would run parallel, and the sloped house locations create better views when looking out the windows.

In addition to reducing the amount of roads, the efficient design leads to smoother traffic without tight turns, he said.

Harrison said an extensive network of internal trails make it easy to walk around the neighborhood in all directions and pedestrians have a centralized park.

The street, boardwalks and house fronts form “independent curves that make it a more exciting place to inhabit” and, along with a park-like streetscape, this helps increase property values, Harrison said.

“Every setback on average, including the lot size for zoning, is much more important than a cookie cutter alternative that would typically be submitted,” he said.

The narrowing of the pavement also lowers costs, meaning there is more money available to invest in landscaping, walking paths and features that make neighborhoods more “functional,” Harrison said.

Harrison said his company has helped design more than 1,400 neighborhoods using these methods in 48 states, including some projects in Ohio.

Todd Kinskey, Director of Planning, Neighborhoods and Development for Dayton, said he wanted to know more about sidewalks and who will be building walkways.

He said he was concerned about the proposed street that connects to Jansin Place to the north. The properties to the north and west of the proposed site are in Huber Heights.

Kinseky and city staff urged the developer to contact and coordinate with the neighboring jurisdiction and surrounding neighbors and owners, who may have concerns and objections.

The proposed new street would also connect to Ring Neck Drive at the southeast corner of the site.

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Cornelius Frolik

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