The Crunch of Development Along Gravel Roads

Zoning Practice — February 2004

By Michele Fedorowicz, AICP, Mark Wyckoff, FAICP


ZP subscriber
List Price
Sign In & Download

Not a member but want to buy a copy? You'll need to create a free My APA account to purchase. Create account

Communities on the fringe of suburban development at times find themselves in a quandary. They want to preserve their rural character and accommodate new development as well. Yet more development brings more people and more traffic.

The changes can also reduce rural character. How does a rural community make decisions that balance preservation of rural character with efforts to accommodate more development? The answer lies in part in knowing the thresholds above which new development diminishes rural character and existing infrastructure capacity. One new threshold has been discovered: gravel road capacity.

This issue of Zoning Practice discusses how communities can gauge the capacity of gravel roads to handle traffic and shows that most gravel roads can handle much less density of development than most rural township and county zoning ordinances allow.


Page Count
Date Published
Feb. 1, 2004
Adobe PDF
American Planning Association

About the Authors

Michele Fedorowicz, AICP

Mark Wyckoff, FAICP
<p>Mark Wyckoff retired in February 2018 as a professor at Michigan State University where he served as Interim Director of the Land Policy Institute and Director of the Planning &amp; Zoning Center. He was a community planner with 43 years of experience (including 24 years running a private sector consulting business) and is a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He created, edited and published the Michigan-specific monthly magazine, Planning &amp; Zoning News, from November 1982 until the last issue in February 2022. Mark is interested in regional economic development, place and placemaking, land use law, sign regulation, environmental and natural resource protection, legacy cities, intergovernmental service delivery and consolidation, the transportation and land use connection, and the nexus between environmental protection and economic development. He conducted an average of nearly one training program a week for 35 years to large and small audiences on these and other topics. He helped the Michigan legislature consolidate laws related to local planning and zoning and advised on many draft state policies and legislation. Mr. Wyckoff is the author or co-author of nearly two dozen best practices guidebooks and training programs for local government officials and various stakeholder groups, and has published in journals of law, planning and real estate.</p>