Monday, September 5, 2011

Legacy Update: Rural Character

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines rural as “of or relating to the country, country people or life, or agriculture.” Country is defined as “an indefinite usually extended expanse of land.” Character is defined as a “main or essential nature especially as strongly marked and serving to distinguish.” Therefore, the very nature of the term “rural character” is unique to each individual. While there is no single definition, overall rural character can mean the patterns of land use and development that feature open space, the natural landscape and vegetation as being predominant over the built environment; agrarian lifestyles, rural-based economies, and the opportunity to live and work in a rural area; visual landscapes that are usually found in rural areas; wildlife habitats; and/or very low-density development.

Regardless of how rural character is defined, as more people become interested in rural areas, preserving the unique character of these areas may become a challenge. Approximately 120,000 people are estimated to come into Forsyth County over the next 20 years; without proper planning and regulations, the rural character of the county may be lost. It will be up to our community to determine what Forsyth County’s rural character is and ultimately, how it can be preserved. The overall concept of rural character includes the following components:
  • farmlands
  • woodlands
  • undeveloped open space
  • natural streams
  • outdoor recreation opportunities
  • pastoral viewsheds
  • historic resources
This chapter will discuss how Forsyth County’s Rural Area has been addressed through planning, the tools currently available and the issues relating to the community’s overall rural character.

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