New Development … But how Smart?


The above picture is of two horse barns on a nearby farm outside Hanover, PA.  I understand that it was a large horse farm which was sold for development into residential housing.  In the short-time I have lived here, the undeveloped land was used to raise a lot of corn which is coming to an end.  When I turned around from where I took the above picture I could see a section that had already been converted into suburban style residential lots with relatively new homes as shown below.


These appear to be what has come to be typical homes in the U.S. with medium size lots, frame construction with vinyl siding, and long lines for all the infrastructure … electric, gas, water, sewer, cable, & telephone running underground over long distances from house to house.  I’m sure that the people living here are pleased that they live here “in style” and that they have given no thought to the many long-term problems facing them and future owners.

My first thoughts are of all the costly maintenance that these houses will require.  The total outer skin, inner utility lines, and the underground lines will all have to be replaced far too quickly since everything has been built with minimal quality materials.  In addition, the lawns will need to be fertilized, have weed and insect killers applied, and have to be cut and trimmed weekly throughout the growing season.  They look nice now but the costly time-consuming maintenance will grow and become an increasing burden.  In general, this style of construction is cheap initially compared to the long-term maintenance costs.  I’m sure that there are better ways to develop and use the land which result in lower long-term total costs with more efficient use of natural resources and energy.

I can visualize a future time when they will be tearing down these types of “developments” to recycle the materials and convert the land back to more productive uses.  Our short-sided views of everything from housing, to natural resource uses, to politics, to climate modifications will likely end-up being very, very costly.


  1. Dee

    I so prefer the first pic, I lived out in the country most of my life and loved it and now I am in a developement, tolerable


  2. suburbanlife

    My younger sister just returned from an extended stay in Berlin and Hungary. She had visited the site of the Hungarian Mint which is in buildings erected more than 200 years ago, made of stone and brick. These buildings have been retro-fitted with external conduits which carry water and electricity into them. While this is a visual surprise, it is more than acceptable and shows how modifications to old structures is an economical solution to the tear-down-and-rebuild mentality that besets our culture. it is a long view of habitation and resource use, as well.
    The suburban dream is not in the long term self-sustaining – the lawn, the Potemkin Village attraction of superficially aesthetic mode of life. I grieve to see such developments as in your photo as i see them as physical manifestations of a false dream. G