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Trails Community: Woodlands Edge in Little Rock, Arkansas

Woodlands Edge is one of three communities from across the nation selected to serve as fitting models for excellence in trails within a private development. The first ever American Trails Developer Awards were presented at the 2008 National Trails Symposium in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Rocket Properties, LLC

photo of family on trail
Woodlands Edge in Little Rock, Arkansas

Located in Little Rock, Arkansas, Woodlands Edge is an 800 acre community that will include up to 10 miles of trails. Homes, streets and infrastructure have been integrated into the landscape while promoting the conservation and preservation of streams, forests and wildlife. The extensive trail system throughout the neighborhood encourages a healthy lifestyle and provides a strong connection to nature for residents.

The community’s conservation design has earned it recognition from the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Arbor Day Foundation and the Arkansas Urban Forestry Council.

According to the Arbor Day Foundation, Woodlands Edge is 95% forested, and has a common forested green belt that connects to the back yards of almost every home. Designed to preserve natural vegetation, entryways and buffer areas contain a mix of hardwoods and pine. Native trees and vegetation were predominantly used in plantings.

Woodlands Edge received a 2005 Award of Excellence in the Building With Trees recognition program. The program, sponsored by The Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the National Association of Home Builders and Firewise Communities, recognizes builders and developers who save trees during construction and land development.

photo of trail through trees

Natural surface trail through the woods

Ron Tyne, development project manager for Rocket Properties, Little Rock, Arkansas, notes that home buyers are especially attracted to community features such as a park-like setting. The development was cited as an example in a 2008 National Association of Home Builders article on "Solving the Puzzle of Green Development."

“We also carve out and invest in the best land for lots, and leave the rest as open and green space,” Tyne says in the article. Green strategies, if properly implemented, he claims, can combine to lower development costs by up to 30 percent. “You spend less and get more, because these features add premium to the land value,” he was quoted as saying.

The goals of the planning and development of Woodlands Edge were to preserve at least 40 percent of the land as undisturbed meadow and forested areas. The green space enhances scenic vistas throughout the community, which contributes to homeowners maintaining a strong connection to nature. The developer minimized construction and infrastructure site disturbances such as excavation and filling. Efforts were also made to avoid disruption of natural water features and channels, and remove as little vegetation as possible.

The provision of green space and trails has helped sell homes. Rocket Properties purchased an additional 560 acres to expand Woodlands Edge to a total almost 800 acres when building is completed. According to the Summer 2006 issue of Land Development Magazine, "Upon completion, Woodlands Edge is planned for approximately 800 homes interwoven with 300 acres of heavily forested green space traversed by miles of hiking and nature trails."

Other features and design elements include:

photo of trail by river in snow
 
  • Green space buffers along the collector street system to slow traffic and fosters a strong park-like ambience
  • Working with the city to allow reduced street and right-of-way width to preserve trees closer to the roadway and thus reduce traffic speed
  • Entryways and buffer areas that preserve strategic natural vegetation and the scenic views
  • Planting over 3,000 native trees and using native vegetation for landscaping
  • Training project engineers and contractors to minimize impacts on trees selected for retention
  • On-site chipping of trees removed from the street and utility easements to be used as natural material for trail building, tree protection, landscaping, and covering damaged areas

Woodlands Edge was featured in the National Association of Homebuilders Land Development Magazine: http://www.woodlandsedge.com/landdevelopment2006.pdf

In May 2009, the National Association of Home Builders named Woodlands Edge as its Green Building Development of the Year. The association honored Rocket Properties, LLC at the 11th Annual NAHB National Green Building Conference in Dallas.

The development has also earned a 4-Star Green Certified rating from the NAHB Research Center, the highest rating possible and the first in America awarded to a residential development. The extensive certification process under the National Green Building Standard is verified by a certified third party and the only standard accepted by ANSI - The American National Standards Institute.

More than 375 families currently live in Woodlands Edge in new homes ranging from $275,000 to over $600,000.

“Rocket Properties shows how far residential green development has come,” said Eric Borsting, chair of the NAHB Green Building Subcommittee. “This project is a great illustration of sustainable, environmentally responsible land development and a good example for our members as NAHB continues to lead green building into the mainstream."

Ron Tyne, managing member of Rocket Properties says, “Green, low-impact development is both environmentally responsible and economically sound. In a time of rapidly increasing environmental awareness, this award helps to showcase the many benefits of green development and to advance these green concepts. Home buyers, developers and government regulators can better understand that this is not only possible, but prudent and profitable as well. It’s a win-win proposition, and it’s the right thing to do."

Tyne continues, "Our home buyers tell us they were attracted by the country-like feel, the abundant wildlife and thick forests, the convenient location and the fact that their children can ride their bikes and hike on trails away from the threat of traffic.”

For more information:

Woodlands Edge: http://www.woodlandsedge.com/index.php

A map of the development can be viewed at
www.woodlandsedge.com/location_master_map.htm

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