Exeter Vision and Village Implementation Project
Exeter, Rhode Island
Like many small New England towns, Exeter is struggling to preserve its rural identity and quality of life in the face of sprawling residential and commercial development. Dodson & Flinker led the effort to create a “Game Plan for our Future,” founded on an extensive public participation process that included creative use of GIS mapping, game playing workshops, keypad polling, small-group interviews and on-line polling. The result was a strong consensus that village development is a better way to preserve working farm and forest landscapes while developing residential and commercial uses that would be a good fit for Exeter’s future needs.
Through a detailed analysis of the economic, environmental, and social costs and benefits of village development, the project created a shared understanding of likely future growth under existing large-lot zoning, and compared that with a more sustainable village alternative. The consultants identified four village sites with significant growth potential, and used one of them as a model for more detailed design studies. The result is a Village Design Manual that will act as a guide for developers, designers, and town boards as they go through the process of village design and permitting. A form-based Village Zoning Ordinance and Transfer of Development Rights process will channel growth to the best areas and ensure design that fits Exeter's rural character.