Bielinski’s goal is to reduce the amount of storm water runoff and to produce water quality benefits that exceed typical standards. It achieves this by focusing on Best Management Practices rather than conventional engineering strategies. These practices can include:
- Directing storm water over the land so that its flow is slowed, allowing infiltration
- Native landscaping to increase infiltration and reduce runoff
- Bio-infiltration systems
- Residential roof runoff directed to pervious yard areas
- Reducing street cross-sections to reduce impervious surfaces
To minimize soil disturbance during construction, grading requirements are reduced where it is appropriate.
Initially, “it’s not easy to get everyone to warm to the concept,” said Brownell, and this can apply especially to municipalities where conservation “ordinances don’t exist.”
A model ordinance developed by the University of Wisconsin was used for the company’s Auburn Hills Neighborhood in Caledonia. That community’s land plan preserved and restored the natural values of 50% of the land. Development costs there were about $440,000 lower than if conventional practices had been followed.
Brownell said that home buyers are enthusiastic about the company’s approach.
A 7,000-8,000 square-foot lot in Highland Creek, a conventional development in the Village of Jackson, is selling in the low- to mid-$40,000 range, he said. By comparison the same sized lots are going for at least $10,000 more in the low-impact development of Prairie Meadows in West Bend.
Brownell said his company is happy to share its experiences and expertise with other builders around the country who are considering low impact development.
Bielinski's development team includes Applied Ecological Services, Welch Hanson & Associates and Vandewalle & Associates.
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