The main objective of conservation development is to allow residential, or even commercial, development while still protecting the area’s environmental features, allowing for more open space, and protecting farmland and the character of rural communities.

Conservation developments differ from traditional developments in several ways. Conservation developments usually site homes on smaller lots and there is less emphasis on minimum lot size. However, the total number of homes, or density, on a given acreage does not necessarily increase over that allowed in the traditional subdivision designs. The same number of homes is clustered on a smaller portion of the total available land. The remaining land, which would have been allocated to individual home sites, is now converted into protected open space and shared by the residents of the subdivision and possibly the entire community. (It is important to note that there is flexibility on the “homes per land area” issue: some incentive-based ordinances allow for development of more homes in exchange for providing other non-required features that are desirable to the community.)

Traditional Development  Conservation Development

Conservation Development District Model Regulation

In most cases, local ordinances and regulations must be updated to facilitate building conservation development subdivisions. Road frontages, lot size, setbacks, and other traditional regulations must be redefined to permit the preservation of environmentally sensitive areas, rural architecture, historical sites, and other unique characteristics of the parcel of land being developed. Developers often cite local regulations as the primary reason more innovative designs are not used. More flexible regulations does not mean “anything goes,” however. Traditional codes must be replaced with new design standards that address the goals of conservation development, such as open space preservation.

To receive a copy of CRWP's conservation development district model regulation please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. at (440) 975-3870.