conservation subdivision
n. A housing development where homes are clustered together on smaller lots to preserve the surrounding natural area or farmland, which is often then owned and managed by the community. —adj.

Example Citations:
The subdivisions — one sought by Manzi Homes of Rocky Point for four clustered Sound-front lots on a 26-acre parcel and the other by Oregon L.L.C. and Morell L.L.C. for six clustered lots on 53 acres — are nearing final approval from the Town of Southold after lengthy proceedings.

The Manzi plan would build on 29 percent of the 26-acre property and preserve the remaining 71 percent as working farmland; the Oregon-Morell plan would keep 76 percent as farmland. ...

Both applications advanced through the town's approval process during a 30-month moratorium on subdivisions in farm areas because of the amount of open space they preserved. Both comply with a conservation subdivision plan later adopted by the town.
—John Rather, "No Water, Thanks, Subdivision Foes Say," The New York Times, May 29, 2005

Smith called the ordinance "a significant change" for the town. It eliminates the minimum two-acre lot zoning for new homes and instead encourages the building of "conservation subdivisions."

In such a subdivision, the homes would be clustered while at least 50 percent of the land would be left as open common space. ...

A conservation subdivision lets developers build as many houses on a piece of land as they could with two-acre zoning, but with the houses closer together on lots that range from a quarter-acre to a half-acre, Smith said.
—Tess Nacelewicz, "New zoning in Falmouth aimed at preserving land," Portland Press Herald, January 2, 2006

Earliest Citation:
But buying development rights is not the only option, said Gary Phillips, a Chatham County farmer and environmental developer. Phillips, known for his "conservation" subdivisions with lots of more than 10 acres, is now in the process of preserving 14 contiguous farms in Chatham and Alamance counties through protective easements on the land.
—Jennifer L. Money, "Experts: Try all options to save farmland," Chapel Hill Herald, October 7, 1995

Notes:
A conservation subdivision is also sometimes called a conservation community.

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