Oasis in the suburbs

October 12, 1990

Stopping growth has become a watchword in many suburban regions. Growth pressures are clogging roads, crowding schools and changing the landscape. Commuting to work, to school or even the grocery store takes bigger and bigger chunks of the day. Meanwhile, the costs of multiple cars, along with gasoline and auto insurance, eat further into the family budget. Suburban sprawl is taking a heavy toll on modern lives -- no wonder "growth" has become a political hot potato.

So hats off to Montgomery County developer Joseph Alfandre, whose Kentlands development in Gaithersburg is a step back toward livable neighborhoods -- places where sidewalks and front porches encourage neighbors to say hello to each other. Places where street grids and speed limits are designed with people in mind, not just for the convenience of cars. Places where different sizes and prices of homes draw a mix of ages and incomes. Places where you can walk to the post office or the store and not spend your life in a car.

As The Evening Sun's Kevin Thomas reported this week, Kentlands is opening its models as the real estate market softens. Even so, the traditional neighborhood concept at the heart of the development's design is one that deserves attention in government planning offices around the region. After all, those same concepts have proven their popularity and market value over and over again. For proof, just look at downtown Annapolis or Leesburg, Va., or other towns where people will pay a premium to live in a place that feels like a home.

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