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Viewshed Analysis for Conservation Zoning

Marquette, IA
3D-Viewshed Analysis For Conservation Zoning

Situated beneath the majestic bluffs that overlook the Mississippi River, the City of Marquette enjoys some of the most scenic views in the upper Midwest. A key concern was to foster development in a way that protects these views.

It is not uncommon to develop ordinances protecting a “viewshed” – the unobstructed view from a given point. However, most such ordinances are little more than prohibitions within a specified radius from a given point, or a specified width along a transportation corridor. HR Green used a much more novel and technology-enabled approach to develop a viewshed ordinance for Marquette. HR Green scientists and planners used Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to digitize dozens of important vantage points in and around Marquette. A scoring system was developed based on the City’s stated priority to protect the view of the surrounding bluffs from the City below, while also giving some lesser degree of protection to the view of the City from the bluffs.

The result was a series of maps and 3D images identifying color-coded zones where varying levels of visual impact would be created by structures of a given height. HR Green planners then crafted a conservation ordinance that established parameters for development within those zones. In this manner, science and urban planning were integrated to maximize the number of vantage points throughout the City from which an unobstructed view of the horizon can be enjoyed. The ordinance also contains stipulations to protect the environment from erosion caused by development on steep terrain.

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