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Originally published: 2013-12-09 10:16:03
Last modified: 2013-12-09 10:16:49

Survey: Most Americans prefer smart growth communities

by Anna Oakes

A majority of those surveyed by the National Association of Realtors said they prefer to live in mixed-use neighborhoods with short commutes to work -- characteristics of "smart growth" development.

The 2013 Community Preference Survey queried 1,500 Americans from Sept. 18-24.

The survey found that 60 percent of respondents favor a neighborhood with a mix of houses and stores and other businesses within walking distance rather than neighborhoods that require more driving between home, work and recreation, the association said.

"The survey findings indicate that while the size of the property does matter to consumers, they are willing to compromise size for a preferred neighborhood and less commuting," the NAR said.

While 52 percent of those surveyed prefer a single-family detached house with a large yard, 78 percent said the neighborhood is more important to them than the size of the house. Fifty-seven percent would choose a shorter commute over a home with a larger yard.

When asked to identify their ideal community, the most popular choice was a suburban neighborhood with a mix of houses, shops and businesses, and the least popular was a suburban neighborhood with just houses, the NAR said.

Smart growth planning seeks to avoid urban sprawl by concentrating growth and redevelopment within a city instead of building outward.

The town of Boone conducted a smart growth audit in 2007, which recommended that the town update its density and height requirements. The audit found that the town's current regulations resulted in land use patterns that were inefficient and not compact.

The Boone Town Council in 2009 adopted a land use master plan that incorporated smart growth principles, and town officials continue to update the Unified Development Ordinance in bring it in line with the land use master plan.