The snow melted in town over a month ago. Lawns receiving a third cut already. And folks are thinking about houses. ‘Tis the season.

For the first time in years, a wide variety of lots are available in the City of Fernie. Montane lots range from SR-1 city lots (1/10 of an acre) up to standard city lot size (1/8th of an acre) or a little above. The Cedars offers city lots (1/20th of an acre) up to just under a half-acre. And at the upper end, a string of one-acre lots run across the base of Mt. Fernie offered by Burma Road Estates. All with City of Fernie sewer and water, power, gas and data to the lot line.

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Modern builders try to develop flat and low lands. Historically, this is the land communities saved for agriculture. From A Pattern Language (Oxford University Press, 1977), a seminal book on landscape, land use and modern urban design; “The land which is best for agriculture happens to be best for building, too. But it is limited—and once destroyed it cannot be regained for centuries. But we know…it is important to have open farmland near the places where people live.”

The last 50 years brought about an interesting evaluation of urban and rural living from a variety of viewpoints. A Pattern Language is one look. Christopher Alexander led a group of Berkley students in examining what makes a livable community. From a place in the landscape to the depth of a porch or balcony. Four-foot balconies do not work. You sit in a row and look out. With a six-foot balcony you have enough room for a table to sit around and conversation follows. Simple when you think about it, but how many houses have little balconies? They lie empty. Of no social use.

One concept in A Pattern Language presented and finding common modern usage is the idea of “fingers” of development with open land in between. In other developments, fingers of dedicated open space split the homes providing a separation and a feeling of privacy.

Of course, for the family wanting room to spread out and enjoy privacy, Burma Road Estates is perfect. One-acre lots with a mix of woodland and meadows. Two lots on the river side of Burma Road slope gently toward the Elk River. There is nothing but river and mountain in the front yard. On the other side of Burma Road, the lots rise changing from meadow to forest with sweeping views across the valley to the Morrissey Ridge and the Lizard Range.

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The views are open and expansive. Every morning the sun drops down Mt. Fernie and fills the bench with the first light in town. The design of Burma Road Estates leaves the land open with the homeowner deciding where they will build.

In the age of Smart Growth—packing as much development in the smallest area possible—there is a refreshing air around Burma Road Estates. One acre in any other part of town would have 10 to 14 houses. There is no room left for wildlife. In Burma Road Estates, the dispersing of the homes leaves 9/10’s of the land for the wildlife. There are dedicated corridors along the creeks. The land retains the moose, the deer and the bears. In fact, walking along Burma Road you are more likely to see a deer than another person.

This year there is a full range of options—small to large. And all have views. In this valley, it’s hard not to have views.

And as added bonus, Fernie finally has a place for those with homes on the go—RV’s. With Fernie RV Resort opening this spring we seem to have all the basses covered.

It’s all about choice.

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