The real estate market in Walker County will soon include a new community catering to a wide range of homeowners.
The developers of Fieldstone Farms subdivision are employing neighborhood layout design that sets aside areas of greenspace to be permanently preserved.
The development is located on U.S. 27 in Rock Spring, just north of the Walker County Civic Center.
Fieldstone Farms, LLC, a company of four principal developers, has recruited 22 area homebuilders to provide single-family and condominium residences.
Developer Jack Webb said the entire development will consist of 180 acres and up to 500 dwellings, making it the largest subdivision in Walker County.
Phase 1 of the development has all of its 127 lots committed to builders, according to Webb. He said lots average one-quarter acre, with some as large as three-quarters of an acre for the larger homes.
Prices will range from $115,000 for a townhome to $200,000 for a large single-family dwelling along the Avenue of the Oaks, a uni-directional parkway with 17 large trees.
Fieldstone Parkway will be the community’s main street, travelling eastward from U.S. 27 to connect with Arnold Road.
The parkway will have a “dedicated easement” of 15 feet on each side, fully irrigated, which will include walkways for much of its length. There will also be two large landscaped traffic roundabouts on the parkway.
The main entry road initially passes through highway frontage parcels set aside for commercial development, slated as The Shops at Fieldstone Village.
These shops will be built with a design character fitting in with the rest of the community, according to developer Don Moon.
The development is being constructed with a complete sewer system and underground utilities.
Fieldstone Farms, Phase 1
Single-family residences: 84 units
Condominium townhomes: 27 units
Condominium patio homes: 16 units
Percentage of greenspace acres: 14
Retaining ponds: 5
Other amenities planned for phase one include old-fashioned street lamps and signs, custom wrought–iron mailboxes, fully sodded lawns, and community “pocket parks” with benches.
The developers used a Global Positioning Satellite system to identify all trees 12 inches or more in diameter, and the layout of the neighborhood was planned around these to help preserve the natural beauty of the land.
Gordon Lee Farms in Chickamauga provided willow oaks, dogwoods and pistaches to be planted throughout the community.
Beyond the first phase, future development will have a spring-fed lake as its showpiece, including a 25-foot community shoreline with a walking path and an English Cotswold stone bridge over which the parkway crosses.
An activities center with a swimming pool and kids play area as well as a community grilling area are also planned.
Moon said there will be a neighborhood association, and because of the large amount of common area, homeowners will be required to pay a monthly fee for their maintenance.
The concept of conservation subdivision design, or CSD, is a growing trend among home developers and public planners, brought about partly in response to years of building that has contributed to suburban sprawl.
“Smart growth is something that I think a lot of municipalities are trying to do a better job with in being forward thinking — seeing what makes the most sense for the community overall,” said Webb.
Just a few months before the property for Fieldstone was purchased, Walker County officials met with nationally renowned CSD expert Randall Arendt, who has published several authoritative books and articles on the subject.
Since the mid-1990s, Arendt has promoted the CSD concept, which he has described as “golf course communities without the golf course.”
According to a report from the University of Georgia Institute of Ecology, modern home development has traditionally consisted of constructing single-family homes on as large a lot as the buyer can afford.
While this “cookie cutter” method has proven financially successful for developers striving to maximize the number of lots that can subdivided out of a property, it causes open space to vanish and creates sprawl, the report states.
A report by the Reason Public Policy Institute states sprawl can be reduced by allowing developers to build on smaller minimum lot sizes if they agree to leave a portion of land undisturbed.
“CSD offers the full development potential of a parcel while minimizing environmental impacts and protecting desirable open spaces,” the report states.
Walker County planning director Kelia Kimbell said there are currently no ordinances that expressly address conservation subdivisions.
But she said the county’s overlay district zoning for the U.S. 27 bypass around Chickamauga Military Park will be used as a sort of “test subject” for smart growth.
Standards of quality
Fieldstone developer Ed Smith said, ”We spent a lot of time coming up with good building covenants and restrictions so that our homes are built well and are the type of home that fits in to the neighborhood.”
Webb indicated a summary of covenants and restrictions will be available for prospective home buyers at www.seefieldstonefarms.com.
“It will enable buyers to see an outline of the standards of quality to which builders will be held,” he said.
Moon said the developers are appreciative of Walker County leadership because they have the vision for this kind of growth.
“Everyone that is working with us to make this happen is very cognizant of the type of development that we want to do,” he said. “It’s very fortunate for the citizens of Walker County that their planning department is on top of what’s happening.”
Webb said in preliminary meetings with county officials, it was clear that open-space design was high on their list for new developments.
“None of the requirements or restrictions that Walker County has placed on us as developers has been unreasonable,” said Webb, who cited their hiring of an environmental firm to perform a wetlands survey as an example. “We’ve had a great relationship with the county planners.”
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