Tonbo Meadow showcases green development
October 26, 2012By J. Elias O'Neal
In Japanese culture, the dragonfly – or tonbo – represents strength and happiness, defining an insect that scientist have labeled as one of the most resilient on the planet.
Now, a Wrightsville Beach-based development firm hopes to capitalize on elements of the dragonfly legend in a new housing development that could be one of the greenest in New Hanover County.
Called Tonbo Meadow, plans call for the 14-lot, attached single-family development to rise along the Greenville Loop corridor – an area seeing its fair share of new housing development. And while the subdivision calls for 3.19 acres of space, only 1.15 acres will be disturbed for the actual development of residences.
J.F. Larsen, Fasse Construction & Development Inc. project manager, said officials are seeking a rezoning change from R15 to R10 from the Wilmington planning board next month. He said if the project is granted the proper approvals and permits, construction could begin by January.
Tonbo Meadow – first proposed in 2007 – would be one of a few single-family developments in the city to implement low-impact development standards, which encourages conservation and the use of on-site natural features to protect water quality.
It’s a concept prior to the development’s conception that has piqued the interest of green builders across the state and has forced the city to re-examine its own polices addressing low-impact development.
In 2009, the development was featured in N.C. State University’s “Low Impact Development, A Guidebook for North Carolina.” And prior to publishing the guidebook, the development won the Significant Achievement Award from the Lower Cape Fear Stewardship Development Program.
“It took a while to find a designer and builder that understood what I wanted to see constructed on the property and the type of community that needed to be fostered on the site,” said Pam Fasse, Tonbo Meadow property owner and Fasse Construction & Development owner.
Fasse Construction officials are no stranger to low-impact development.
Its successful six-lot housing community on 29th Street named Midori has one remaining lot available. Also having access to Bill Hunt (considered the father of low-impact development in the state) has helped mold the company’s business into a green building machine.
“It’s about being a good steward of the land,” Fasse said shortly after a technical review committee meeting about the proposed development earlier this month. “That’s what we wanted to be all along.”
And along the Greenville Loop corridor, there is plenty to conserve.
With Bradley Creek just feet away from the proposed development, engineers had to figure out how to play to the land’s sloping topography, abundance of native plants and trees and yet respect neighbors’ boundaries without causing flooding to property.
The answer: turning the wetlands into an amenity.
“That was key,” said Scott Ogden, designer and owner of Wilmington-based B + O Design Studio that is designing the residences for the development.
“The land wants to be a wetland, and we needed to design the property to insure that its primary purpose was to remain a wetland,” he said.
To stay in sync with the property, development partners have included grass swales and rain ponds that will serve as park space. Officials will also implement xeric landscaping and pervious driveways.
And much like the Midori models, Tonbo Meadow promises to keep with its contemporary architecture.
Ogden said the homes, which are priced to sell between $230,000 and $300,000 each, would incorporate brick, metal siding and hardipanel exteriors. The 1,500-1,800-sqaure-foot units will be either two- or three-level units and will have exterior access via either screened porches or roof decks. Plans also include placing rain cisterns, installing geothermal cooling and heating systems and limiting yard space for each residence.
Larsen said interest was growing in the development, particularly from people looking to relocate from larger cities who have various housing options in a variety of architectural designs.
“Preleasing is going very well,” he said. “People are ready to move in, which is why we are moving forward with getting the project off the ground.”