Other Voices: Developer’s model for Loma Rica Ranch
The Loma Rica Ranch is 452 acres owned by the Getty Trust for the past six years. Phil Carville was contracted by the Getty Trust to “head the development efforts,” according to Jeff Ackerman.
Plans have changed over the years from a development of 800, to 400, to 180, to 925, to 700.
My family used to live in a beautiful and historic “chocolate-box” English village of about 650 which was an hour by fast train from London. Let me tell you about it.
The traditional English village is of “walkable” and “bikeable” dimensions surrounded by undeveloped woods and fields crisscrossed by paths open to the public.
It grows outward from a central focal point, usually a church and/or a farm. At some point in history, major landowners donated a central site for a church and churchyard where anyone may be buried.
A marketplace develops as the farmer seeks to trade his products with other producers and consumers. The marketplace turns into a village shop. The shop provides postal and banking services.
Other products and services needed by the growing village include a school, a meeting hall, an hotel/restaurant “public house,” a petrol station/garage or specialty shops, like a pharmacist or a medical office.
Homes are built for the farmer and his family, the farm workers and their families, the shopkeepers and their families, the postal clerk and banking personnel, the village priest and his family and others who need to live within walking distance of their businesses.
Commuting workers and professionals find the village a charming location convenient to their offsite jobs and activities.
Retirees, elderly, handicapped or others giving up driving need homes within walking distance of the central shop, church, hall, pub, post, banking and medical services.
The rural setting of the village lends itself to the keeping of animals – cattle and sheep may graze nearby, ducks, geese, and chickens fertilize and weed the orchards. Work and pleasure horses are ridden in the surrounding woods and fields. Hounds are used to hunt predators and protect livestock.
The smallness of the community and its “walkability” enable neighbors to become friends and look out for one another. Uncollected newspapers are noticed and reported at the shop or church and doctors called if lonely people fall ill or need looking after.
All in all, the idyllic nature of our village life in a beautiful pastoral setting has wide appeal and property values rise as more “outsiders” desire to share the benefits of a compact, integrated and sustainable community.
Carville’s vision of up to 700 dwellings fits the English village model that I have been so blessed to experience in Helpston, England, a suburb six miles from Peterborough on the Intercity 225 rail line to London.
Gae V. Seal lives in Nevada City.
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