The stubborn neighbor

You’ve heard of the woman who lived in this house, haven’t you? Here’s the lead to the story in the Seattle P-I:

Edith Macefield died at home, just the way she wanted.

The Ballard (Wash.) woman who captured hearts and admirers around the world when she stubbornly turned down $1 million to sell her home to make way for a commercial development died Sunday of pancreatic cancer. She was 86.

No one knows exactly what will happen to the house now. She left no heirs.

— Hat tip: Andrew Sikora

Ye Olde Urbanism gets boot in britches

A proposal to build a Medieval European village has gotten hogtied by modern Indiana regulations.

The people behind Simpler Times Village want to build a rural community with old-fashioned ideals — really olde — in green space in Madison County. From its Web site:

Can you imagine a storybook village in old world Europe? Have you ever traveled to Italy or Austria to see a community built before 1800? We are working to recreate such a place…

Simpler Times Village is unique because residents will be able to live, work and enjoy agriculture all in one place. You can open a bed and breakfast, own a simple vacation cabin or build a fine estate. You can have gardens and chickens in your backyard. …

But according to the Indianapolis Business Journal, the county commissioners are none too keen on allowing such a development encroach on agricultural areas.

If you look past the dreadful Thomas Kinkade aesthetics and the evangelical escapism, much of the goals of the village are actually quite laudable. Kevin of Urban Indy — who deserves the hat tip for my post — sums it up nicely:

(T)he idea is not terrible. They would have been built to incorporate small farms. The buildings and streetscapes are human-scaled. Also, the businesses would be locally owned.

The fact that this would have been a green field development gets a thumbs down, though. I suspect that a good chunk of people who move to these greenfield New Urbanist developments still drive to work. Public transit would be non-existent.

Exactly. Why not try to do something like this inside an existing city? Can the developers find a city innovative enough — or desperate enough — to relax some of the outdated suburban zoning strictures in a few city neighborhood blocks? This idea doesn’t need outdated architecture to work. It needs creative civic leaders, developers and potential residents who don’t mind walking — and don’t mind a few chickens.