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

The designer of a new proposed subdivision in northeast Dayton says its unique and efficient layout and street and setback patterns offer connectivity, character and livability unlike any other development in the city.

Winding roads and walkways and varying setbacks and home placements on lots help create a neighborhood vastly different than “cookie cutter” developments common in suburbia, said Richard Harrison, president and founder of Minnesota-based Richard Harrison Site Design Studio who is designing the plans.

“What we’re doing in this site is different than developments you’ve ever seen in the city,” he said. “You end up with a neighborhood that is going to look better, feel better and it’s going to be a better place for people to live.”

While new home construction has been hot in the region, homes underway in Dayton city limits have been limited in recent years.

Building permits for about 1,700 new privately owned housing units were issued in the Dayton metro area last year, which was the most units since before the housing market crash and the Great Recession, according to new U.S. Census survey data.

More than 575 new apartments have opened downtown Dayton in the last four years, and more are on the way. But in that time period, the city has issued only a few dozen permits for new home construction citywide, according to building permit data reviewed by this newspaper.

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

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

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

The homes would have covered porches and attached garages that are setback, the applicants said.

A unique element of the development is its meandering sidewalks that weave in and out of the right of way and the front yards of the homes, which means 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 more than 100 feet, and some larger lots would have prairie beds, Green said.

The plans also show a common open space with a playground in the middle of the site, with multiple connected pedestrian paths, including one that provides access from a cul-de-sac, which also has a nontraditional design.

Developers typically want to maximize density and try to create the smallest and most narrow lots possible, Harrison said, and standard grid subdivisions usually have parallel homes.

But Harrison said his firm for several decades has taken a different approach to create better neighborhoods that are designed to have less infrastructure and more green space.

He said no homes in this subdivision will be parallel, and angled home placements create better views when looking out the windows.

In addition to reducing the amount of roadway, the efficient design leads to a smoother traffic flow, with no hard turns, he said.

Harrison said a wide internal trail system makes it easy to stroll through the neighborhood in any direction, and pedestrians have a centralized park to enjoy.

The street, walks and home fronts form “independent curves that make for a more exciting place to dwell” and, along with a park-like streetscape, this helps increase property values, Harrison said.

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

Shrinking the roadway also reduces costs, which means there’s more money available to invest in landscaping, pedestrian trails and features that make neighborhoods more “functional,” Harrison said.

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

Todd Kinskey, Dayton’s director of planning, neighborhoods and development, said he wants to know more about the sidewalks and who will build the walkways.

He said he’s concerned about the proposed street that connects to Jansin Place to the north. Properties to the north and west of the proposed site are in Huber Heights.

Kinseky and city staff urged the developer to reach out and coordinate with the neighboring jurisdiction and surrounding neighbors and property owners, who might have concerns and objections.

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

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