Sustainable Site Strategies: Rosemary Beach, Florida

2 11 2009

Rosemary Beach-050
Rosemary Beach-099

I recently returned from a relaxing week long family vacation in Rosemary Beach, Florida, located on the panhandle just west of Panama City Beach. For those of you not familiar, this is a traditional neighborhood development established in 1995 complete with a Town Center that includes a post office, retail and restaurant space, a hotel, neighborhood parks and more. Many people choose to spend their vacation here for obvious reasons: sun, sand, surf and swimming pools but let’s review what visitors may not notice during their stay.

The following is from the RB website…

“Natural foliage creeps into the pervious pavement streets to slow what little motorized traffic finds its way into town, and keeps drivers alert – a conscious effort to create a safe environment for foot and bicycle traffic. Go green and get pampered at Rosemary Beach!”…

As stated, the streets are constructed of pervious concrete, which allows stormwater from frequent rain showers to penetrate through the pavement and directly into the sandy soil base rather than sheet drain to the typical/conventional system of numerous curb and gutters, inlets and concrete pipes. This isn’t to say there aren’t any storm sewer pipes as part of the infrastructure, just less because of an alternative stormwater solution. The average person visiting Rosemary may only notice that the driving surface is not asphalt and is more ‘bumpy’ that typical concrete.

In addition to pervious concrete, the use of native vegetation is another sustainable site strategy. Using native vegetation requires less water and maintenance while supporting bio-diversity of local wildlife species. Sidewalks, neighborhood boardwalk paths and parks are lined with plants that seem to have been there prior to development and give the impression that the buildings were somehow built around them. Live Oaks create a dramatic tunnel effect over the sidewalks while providing habitat for wildlife such as birds and squirrels. Lizards appear to love hanging out under the low growing palm shrubs and other native plant material. The careful planning of plant material size, location and scale of streetscape planting also aids in the slowing of motorist traffic by psychological affect.

These are only two simple sustainable site strategies/design elements that may go unnoticed by the typical visitor but could serve as an example of how to develop in the future. By the way, I did have fun and relax with my family and didn’t spend they whole week analyzing better ways to develop.

Brian Hudson



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