Ye Olde Urbanism gets boot in britches

January 14, 2008 at 1:45 pm 3 comments

(Jon) A proposal to build a Medieval European village has gotten hogtied by modern Indiana regulations.

The people behind Simpler Times Village want to build a rural community with old-fashioned ideals — really olde — in green space in Madison County. From its Web site:

Can you imagine a storybook village in old world Europe? Have you ever traveled to Italy or Austria to see a community built before 1800? We are working to recreate such a place…

Simpler Times Village is unique because residents will be able to live, work and enjoy agriculture all in one place. You can open a bed and breakfast, own a simple vacation cabin or build a fine estate. You can have gardens and chickens in your backyard. …

But according to the Indianapolis Business Journal, the county commissioners are none too keen on allowing such a development encroach on agricultural areas.

If you look past the dreadful Thomas Kinkade aesthetics and the evangelical escapism, much of the goals of the village are actually quite laudable. Kevin of Urban Indy — who deserves the hat tip for my post — sums it up nicely:

(T)he idea is not terrible. They would have been built to incorporate small farms. The buildings and streetscapes are human-scaled. Also, the businesses would be locally owned.

The fact that this would have been a green field development gets a thumbs down, though. I suspect that a good chunk of people who move to these greenfield New Urbanist developments still drive to work. Public transit would be non-existent.

Exactly. Why not try to do something like this inside an existing city? Can the developers find a city innovative enough — or desperate enough — to relax some of the outdated suburban zoning strictures in a few city neighborhood blocks? This idea doesn’t need outdated architecture to work. It needs creative civic leaders, developers and potential residents who don’t mind walking — and don’t mind a few chickens.

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Entry filed under: community, Jon Swerens, Urbanism. Tags: , , , , , .

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3 Comments

  • 1. Kevin  |  January 15, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Thanks for the link. Your Kinkaide reference is right on. Blech. But chickens (or goats, which may be the ultimate survivalist farm animal) in the yard isn’t really a bad idea, as long as you have a plan to deal with the waste. Heck, there’s plenty of “urban prairies” in Indy to try this in.

  • 2. MRev. Kenneth White, Jnr.  |  January 15, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Even in small town America they have issue with the ruralification of the urban core. Way back in like the late 50’s when my mom’s hometown decided to annex “past the bridge” they had to exempt my maternal family estate from the annex because at the time it was a working sheep farm. They literally annexed the house but left the other 41/2 acres in the county which made for one crazy tax bill being to the fact that the property was now in two districts.

    It would be nice to see the ability for everyone in the City to have a little more acreage (actual yard to play in and chicken to play with, kinda cool) but I am not sure if we are ready for the deaf rooster crowing at four in the morning to sight of police lights.

    Can you imagine the story line if FWPD had to coralle a small herd of goats or of pigs down Main Street because some seven year old forgot to latch the gate, lol.

  • 3. Joshua Brown  |  May 7, 2008 at 9:31 pm

    This was really fun to read, thanks! We really did look into an infill/refill type development, but that’s really difficult being that we’re great visionarys without the deep pockets!

    But we do appreciate your comments. Here we are on Main St. in Fortville with goats in our backyard for now with this housing market…

    Thanks!
    Joshua Brown


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