In Maine, a group of residents are hoping to start a new community based on the principles of urban design advocated by Nathan Lewis at New World Economics and J.H. Crawford at Carfree.com. The group, led by Tracy Gayton, is hoping to attract enough individual investors to buy 125 acres of land which will be home to Piscataquis Village, a community of narrow streets.
They’re using a Kickstarter-like investment model, in which individuals pledge to buy land contingent upon the group reaching the critical mass needed to get the project underway. The development would use covenants to limit building to require attached buildings, arcade sidewalks, and a building height limited to four stories based on the Really Narrow Streets model of dense low- to mid-rise buildings.
On a previous post, some commenters came out strongly against covenants as a means for determining land use restrictions. What do you all think of them here? To me, this case illustrates the effectiveness that covenants have for shaping land use over an area broader than individual lots without the coercion of zoning.
Tracy has created a presentation on the preliminary objectives for Piscataquis Village. He writes:
We envision a settlement evolving organically and growing incrementally. Those people or groups of people that wish to pursue their own, various versions of the Good Life within the bounds of the Village are welcome.
This project reminds me a bit of seasteading, the libertarian vision of a bottom-up society living on a water vessel to escape government coercion and violence. While I believe that most of the initial Piscataquis Village investors are from Maine and wish to continue living there, the projects’ rural location draws attention to the impossibility of a similar village emerging in the open space of, say, Howard County or Loudoun County because the realities of the political planning process would make it impossible to escape street width, parking, and setback requirements.
Best of luck to the Piscataquis Village investors in achieving the freedom to build an urbanist community.